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SCIENCE FICTION 




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SCIENCE FICTION 

Reg. U. S. Pat. Off. 

CONTENTS 

SEPTEMBER, 1949 VOL. XLIV, NO. 1 

NOVELETTES 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS, hy Paul Anderson 6 

SPECIAL JOBBERY, by H. B. Fyfe 41 

SHORT STORIES 

PI IDE AND SEEK, by Arthur C. Clarke ........ 68 

SERIAL 

THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA, L. Sprague de Camp ..... 88 

(Conclusion) 

ARTICLE 

CYBERNETICS, by E. L. Locke 78 

SPECIAL FEATURE 

PROGRESS -REPORT, by John H. Pomeroy 31 

READERS’ DEPARTMENTS 



THE editor’s PAGE . . 4 

INTIMESTOCOME . . . 67 

BOOK REVIEWS ISO 

BRASS TACKS 154 



Editor 

JOHN W. CAMPBELL, JR, 

W2ZGU 

Assistant Editor 
C. TARRAN T 

COVER BY ORBAN 

Illustrations by Cartier. Hicks and Orban 

The editorial contents have not been published before, are protected by copyright and cannot be re- 
printed without publishers’ permission. All stories in this magazine are fiction. No actual persons are 
designated by name or character. Any similarity is coincidental. 

Monthly publication issued by Street & Smith Publications. Incorporated at 775 Lidgerwood Avenue. 
Elizabeth, New Jersey. Reentered as Second Class matter October 19, 1948 at the Post Office at Eliza- 
beth, New Jersey, imder Act of Congress of March 3. 1879. Copyright. 1949, in U. S. A. and Great 
Britain by Street & Smith Publications, Inc. Allen L. Grammer. Chairman of the Board; Gerald H. 
Smith, President; Henry W. Ralston, Vice-President and Secretary; Thomas H. Kaiser, Treasurer. 
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$2.50 per Year in U. S. A. Printed in the U. S. A. 25c per Copy 

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE SEPTEMBER 20, 1949 



AST-1 K 



NARROW LIMITS 



Man’s a lot tougher organism than 
we members of the species nor- 
mally believe. We humans can see 
the sleek, deadly fighting power in 
the slim-waisted, smooth-flowing 
muscles of a 120-pound leopard, the 
supple grace of a panther. But the 
reactions of any wild deer are ade- 
quate evidence that the deer sees just 
as much sleek deadly fighting power 
in the slim-waisted, smooth-flowing 
muscles, the supple grace of a 120- 
pound girl. The fact that normally 
leopard, panther, or lion will, in the 
wild, carefully avoid the girl indi- 
cates that the great cats, too, appre- 
ciate human beings as powerful, 
vicious and deadly animals. 

But man exceeds all other ani- 
mals in his ability to live anywhere, 
on anything— even without the full 
benefits of a highly developed tech- 
nology. The Eskimo can survive the 
far North— and while a musk ox can 
also, the musk ox, unlike the Es- 
kimo, couldn’t survive in a Central 
American rain forest. Being an 
omnivore, Man gets along nicely 
where either horses or wolves would 
starve— and being smart, can sur- 
vive where both horses and wolves 
would starve. 

Moreover, man can do fairly well 
in high altitudes, and low, on rich 
diets and poor. The variety of 
things a man can eat and thrive on 

4 



is far more remarkable than we 
ordinarily have occasion to think 
about. We’ve got a fine; free-wheel- 
ing sort of digestion that works on 
almost anything on Earth. 

On Earth. Be it noted, that that 
phrase is important, and worthy of a 
bit of consideration. It’s been taken 
for granted in science-fiction that the 
same general omnivorous system 
will work elsewhere. I strongly 
suspect that the chances are several 
thousand to one against it. Let’s take 
a few items into consideration, and 
see what we get. 

First, we’re sadly handicapped in 
our discussion, because terrestrial- 
type metabolisms are, of course, the 
only ones we have to deal with, and 
the only ones we have to argue from. 
However, some interesting very 
minor deviations that occur, even 
here on Earth, are worth consider- 
ing. 

For one thing, be it remembered 
that for some two billions of years 
plant-forms have been trying to work 
out methods of making their tissues 
as toxic as possible, so that animal- 
forms won’t destroy them. The ani- 
mal forms have, during the same 
long period, been evolving metabolic 
systems capable of taking aboard any 
hellish brew the plants could cook 
up, and getting nourishment out 
of it. The Sequoia Gigantea— the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




giant redwoods— have, for instance, 
evolved a practically bug-proof bark. 
It contains so much free tannic acid 
that any bug trying to bore through 
gets turned into a low, but very 
dead, grade of leather. The fox- 
glove plant didn’t evolve_ digitalis 
for the purpose of curing heart 
trouble ; it made a darned good try 
at elaborating something deadly 
enough to discourage any animal that 
ate it. There’s an African plant 
that’s one step up on the animal 
world so far ; it is toxic— i.e., ani- 
mals haven’t j'et evolved a metabolic 
system for handling the toxin it’s 
discovered. It’s fluoroacetic acid, 
and is really poisonous. 

Then there are areas in the West 
where all plant life is deadly, and 
even animals that have eaten the 
plants and haven’t yet died of it are 
themselves toxic. That isn’t the 
plant’s fault ; the plants are sick, 
too, but not as sick as the plant- 
eaters. The ground is very poor in 
sulfur, and rich in selenium ; all ter- 
restrial metabolisms are based in 
part on sulfur, and when it’s lack- 
ing, the plants try to make-do with 
its chemical brother, selenium. For 
plants, selenium’s a fairly good sub- 
stitute. For animals, it’s deadly. A 
lot of unexpected elements are es- 
sential to animal metabolism. Co- 
balt, for instance. Nobody guessed 
that, till the dying sheep and cattle 
in one section of Australia led to 
some high-power research. No dis- 
ease, no poison, nothing seemed to 
.account for it— till a little cobalt salt 
was sprayed into the soil. There’s 



an obscure vitamin that needs cobalt 
in the molecule. 

Our blood depends on an iron 
compound, hemoglobin ; lobsters de- 
pend on a copper compcrund. There’s 
a marine worm that uses a vanadium 
compound as its oxygen-carrier. 

Now let’s assume we have a new, 
lush, Earth-like planet of an alien’s 
sun. The oxygen-rich atmosphere, 
and plentiful water, the pleasant 
temperature and gentle climate all 
seem ideal. Our hero lands, and 
tries one of the tempting golden fruit 
he sees a local monkeylike beastie 
eating. 

And it takes nearly ten minutes 
for the resultant violent convulsions 
to tear his muscles apart, and let him 
die. Two billion years of evolution 
on this planet 'have turned up a 
whole string of things that were, 
once, virulent poisons, but have now 
been so adjusted to by local ani- 
mals they act as vitamins. John Q. 
Hero isn’t a local animal— and the 
whole string hit him simultaneously. 
If he’d lived long enough, he’d have 
died of selenium poisoning, because 
these plants and animals use se- 
lenium instead of sulfur. But he 
wouldn’t have, even without the or- 
ganic-molecule poisons ; on this plan- 
et plants— and, of course, animals— 
use fluoro-carbons generously in 
their metabolic processes. That, as 
a matter of fact, is why his twisted 
corpse is covered wdth those angry 
red blotches. Violent contact derma- 
titis-super poison ivy. 

The Editor. 



NARROW LIMITS 



s 




THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 

BY POUL ANDERSON 



E. E. Smith suggested one way of maintaining peace in the 
Galaxy. But there might be another, equally effective method-— 



Illustrated by Orban 



The Premier of Luan was speak- 
ing, and over the planet his face 
glared into telescreens and his voice 
rang its anger. Before the Admin- 
istration Building milled a crowd 
that screamed itself hoarse before the 
enormously magnified image on the 
wall, 1 screamed and cheered and 
surged like a living wave against the 
tight-held lines of the Palanthian 
Guard. There was mob violence in 
the air, a dog would have bristled at 
the stink of adrenalin and sensed the 
tension which crackled under the 
waves of explosive sound. The taut- 
ness seemed somehow to be trans- 
mitted over the screens, and watch- 
ers on the other side of the world 
raved at the image. 

The Premier was young and dy- 
namic and utterly sure of himself. 
There was steel in his tones, and his 
hard handsome face was vibrant 

6 



with a deep inward strength. He 
was, thought Wing Alak, quite a su- 
perior type. 

In spite of being in the capital of 
the planet, Alak preferred sitting 
alone in his hotel room and watching 
the telescreen to joining the mob that 
yelled its hosannahs in the streets. 
He sat back with a drink in one hand 
and a cigarette in the other, physi- 
cally relaxed as the speech shouted 
at him : 

“. . . not only a matter of material 
gain, but of sacred Luanian honor. 
Lhing was ours, ours by right of our 
own blood and sweat and treasure, 
and the Incredible betrayal of the 
League in giving it to Marhal as a 
political bribe shall not be permitted 
to succeed. We will fight for our 
rights and honor— if need be, we will 
fight the Patrol itself— fight and 
win !” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 





The cheers rose fifty stories to rat- 
tle the windows of Alak’s room. 
Overhead rushed a squadron of 
navy speedsters, their gravitic drives 
noiseless but the thunder of cloven 
air rolling in their wake, and each of 
them carried bombs which could 
wipe out a city. Alak’s, thoughts 
turned to a more potent menace, the 
monster cruisers and battleships or- 
biting about Luan— yes, the situation 
was getting out of hand. He won- 
dered, suddenly and grimly, if it 
might not have gone too far to be 
remedied. 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



. . we will not fight alone. The 
whole Galaxy waits only one bold 
leader to rise and throw off the yoke 
of the League. For four hundred 
years we have groaned under the 
most corrupt and cynical tyranny 
ever to rise in all man’s tortured his- 
tory. The League government re- 
mains in power only by such an 
unbelievable network of intrigue, 
bribery, threat, terror, betrayal, and 
appeal to all the worst elements of 
society that the like has never before 
been imagined. This is not mere 
oratory, people of Luan, it is sober 

7 



truth which we have slowly and pain- 
fully learned over generations. Your 
government has carefully compiled a 
list of corrupt and terroristic acts of 
the Patrol which include every vio- 
lation of every moral law existing on 
every planet in the universe, and 
each of these accusations has been 
verified in every detail. The Mar- 
halian thievery is a minor matter in 
that list— but Luan has had enough !” 

Wing Alak puffed on his cigarette 
in nervous breaths. It was, he re- 
flected bleakly, not exaggerated more 
than political oratory required, and 
the anger of Luan’s Tranis Voal had 
its counterpart on more planets than 
he cared to think about. 

The speech paused for cheers, and 
the door chime sounded in Alak’s 
room. He turned in his seat, scowl- 
ing, to face the viewplate. It showed 
him a hard, unfamiliar face, and his 
hand stole toward his tunic pocket. 
Then he thought; No, you fool! 
Force is the most useless possible 
course— here ! 

He rose, pressing the admittance 
button, and he felt his spine crawl as 
four men entered. They were ob- 
viously secret agents— only what did 
police want with a harmless com- 
mercial traveler from Maxlan IV ? 

“Wing Alak of Sol HI,” declared 
one of the men, “you are under ar- 
rest for conspiracy against the state.” 

“There . . . must be some mistake.” 
Alak licked his lips with just the^ 
right amount of nervousness, but his 
stomach was turning over with the 
magnitude of this catastrophe. “I 



am Gol Duhonitar of Maxlan IV— 
here, my papers.” 

The detective took them and put 
them in a pocket. “Forged identity 
papers are important evidence,” he 
said tonelessly. 

“1 tell you, they’re genuine, you 
can see the Patrol stamp and the 
League secretary for Maxlan has his 
signature—” 

“Sure. Doesn’t prove a thing. 
Search him, Gammal.” 

Voal’s voice roared from the tele- 
screen : “As of today, Luan has 
officially seceded from the Galactic 
League, and war has been declared 
on Marhal. And let the Patrol’s 
criminals dare try to stop us !” 

Thokan looked across the table at 
his visitor, and then back at the 
notes heaped before him. “Just what 
does this mean?” he asked slowly.* 
The newcomer, a Sirian like him- 
self, shrugged. “Let’s not waste 
time,” he said. “You want to win 
the coming system-wide election. 
Here are fifty thousand League cred- 
its, good anywhere in the civilized 
Galaxy, as a retainer. There are 
a million more waiting if you lose.” 
Thokan half rose, then settled 
back. His tendrils hung limply. 
“Lose?” he whispered. 

“Yes. We don’t want you as Di- 
rector of this system. But we have 
nothing against you personally, and 
would rather pay you to conduct a 
losing campaign than spend even 
more money corrupting the elec- 
torate and otherwise fighting you. If 
you really try, you can win an hon- 



8 



ASTOUNDING SCI E N C E- F I CTION 




est election. But we are determined 
that Ruhoc shall continue as Di- 
rector, and, to put it melodramati- 
cally, we will stop at nothing to in- 
sure your defeat.” 

Strickenly, Thokan looked into the 
visitor’s bleak eyes : “But you said 
you were from the Patrol!” 

“I am.” 

“The Patrol—” Thokan’s voice 
rose. “But Cosmos ! The Patrol is 
the law-enforcement agency of the 
League!” 

“That’s right. And, friend, you 
don’t know what a really dirty cam- 
paign is like till you’ve seen the 
Patrol in action. However, we don’t 
want to ruin your reputation and 
your private business and the hon- 
esty of a lot of officials connected 
with elections. We would much pre- 
fer simply to pay you to stop cam- 
paigning so effectively.” 

“But— Oh, no— But why?” 
“You are an honest being, too 
honest and too set in your views— 
including a belief in the League con- 
stitution’s clause that the Patrol 
should stay out of local politics— for 
us. Ruhoc is a scoundrel, yes, but 
he is open to suggestions if they are, 
shall I say, subsidized. Also, under 
him the present corruption and hope- 
less inefficiency of the Sirian military 
forces will continue.” 

“I know— it’s one of the major 
points in my campaign— Cosmos, 
you race-traitor, do you want the 
Centaurians simply to come in and 
take us over ?” Thokan snarled into 
the Patrolman’s impassive face. 
“Have they bribed the Patrol? Do 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



they really run the League? You 
incredible villain, I— ” 

“You have your choice.” The 
voice was pitiless. “Think it over. 
My orders are simply to spend what 
is necessary to win Ruhoc the elec- 
tion. How I spend it is a matter of 
indifference to me.” 

As the policeman approached him, 
Alak drew a deep breath and let one 
hand, hanging by his side, squeeze 
the bulb in that tunic pocket. The 
situation was suddenly desperate, 
and his act was of ultimate emer- 
gency. 

The sphere of brain-stunning 
supersonic vibrations emitted by the 
bulb was so heterodyned that most 
of Alak’s body, including his head, 
was not affected. But otherwise it 
had a range of some meters, and the 
detective dropped as if poleaxed. 
They’d be out for some minutes, but 
there was no time to lose, not an in- 
stant of the fleeing seconds. Alak 
grabbed his cloak, reversing it to 
show a dark blue color quite unlike 
the gray he had been seen wearing. 
He put its cowl over his red hair, 
shading his thin sharp features, and 
went out the door. The change 
should help some when his descrip- 
tion was broadcast. It had better 
help, he thought, grimly. He was 
the only Patrolman on a planet that 
had just proclaimed its intentions of 
killing Patrolmen on sight. 

Hurry, hurry! 

He went down the nearest gravity 
shaft and out the lobby into the 
street. Voal’s speech had just ended, 

9 




and the crowds were howling them- 
selves hoarse. Alak mingled with 
them. Luan having been colonized 
largely by Baltravians, who in turn 
were descendants of Terrestrials, he 
was physically inconspicuous, but his 
Solarian accent was not healthy at 
the moment. Sol was notoriously 
the instigator and leader of the Gal- 
actic League. 

The street telescreens were show- 
ing a parade of the Palanthian 
Guard, rank upon brilliantly uni- 
formed rank of the system’s crack 
troops, and the brassy rhythm of 
their bands pidsed in the veins and 
shrieked in the head. Beat, beat, 
beat, yelling bugles and rolling 
drums and the heart-stopping slam 
of a thousand boots landing simul- 
taneously on the pavement. Swing 
and crash and tramp, aircraft snarl- 
ing overhead with their sides afire in 
the sun, banners flying and trumpets 
roaring and the long wild charge of 
heroes to vengeance and glory. All 
Luan went crazy and shouted for 
blood. 

Alak reflected tautly that the dan- 
ger to Marhal was no less threaten- 
ing other systems. The Luanian 
battle fleet could get to Sol, say, in 
three weeks, and if Voal suspected 
just how strong the Patrol really 
was— or wasn’t— 

Alak had seen the dead planets 
swinging on their lonely way. Their 
seas mourned on ashen beaches, and 
the ash blew inland on whining 
winds, in over the dusty plains. Their 
suns were a dim angry copper-red, 
smoldering in skies of scudding dust 

10 



and ash. Only the wind and the 
dust stirred, only the empty heavens 
and the barren sdas had voice. At 
night there might still be an evil blue 
glow of radioactivity, roiling in the 
ash storms or glimmering out of the 
fused craters. Here and there the 
wind might briefly uncover crum- 
bling skeletons of once sentient crea- 
tures, with only dust now stirring in 
their hollow skulls, with the storms 
piping through their ribs. A few 
snags of broken buildings still stood, 
and now and then there were acid 
rains sluicing out of the birdless 
skies. But no life stirred anywhere. 
War had passed by, and returned to 
the remotely shining stars. 

He made his way through the 
jammed avenue into a quieter side 
street. Any moment, now, he could 
expect the hunt to start. He went 
with careful casualness over to a 
parked private car, a fast little 
ground-air job. He had a Patrol 
key, which would open any ordinary 
magnetolock, and with it he let him- 
self into the vehicle and got started. 
Car stealing was a minor offense 
compared to what he was wanted 
for. 

As he drove, he scowled in 
thought. That Voal’s police had 
knownv'him for what he was indi- 
cated that the leader’s interests and 
spy system reached well beyond the 
local stars. He must have agents on 
Maxlan IV, which lay seventy light- 
years from Luan’s sun. If he had 
known the name of the Patrol’s 
agent, it would indicate that he knew 
a lot more about the Patrol itself, and 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




this supposition was supported by 
Voal’s mention of fully verified cases 
of League perfidy. Though it was 
no secret that the Patrol used cor- 
rupt methods, the details were care- 
fully suppressed wherever possible. 

What was more to the immedi- 
ate point, the police must have fol- 
lowed all Alak’s movements. So 
now his underworld contacts must 
be arrested, leaving Alak stranded 
and alone on Luan. And a League 
agent who had associated himself 
with some of the worst crooks on 
the planet could expect no particular 
mercy. 

Headquarters underestimated the 
danger, thought Alak. They took 
this to be just another obscure squab- 
ble between frontier systems, and 
now Luan turns out to be a highly 
organized, magnificently armed pow- 
er spoiling for a fight. I suppose 
slip-ups are hound to occur in trying 
to co-ordinate a million stars, and 
this is one of the mistakes— and I’m 
in the middle of it. 

He drove aimlessly, trying to col- 
lect his thoughts. Six weeks of care- 
ful work in the Luanian underworld 
were shot. His bribes and promises 
had been getting a program of sabo- 
tage under way which should have 
thrown plenty of sand in the gears of 
the war machine. He was on the 
point of contacting ambitious officers 
who were ready to overthrow the 
elected government and establish 
their own dictatorship— one amenable 
to the Patrol as long as it had free 
access to the public treasury. Only- 
Cosmos, he’d been finding it too 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



easy ! The police had been stringing 
him along, giving him enough rope 
to hang himself several times over, 
and now— 

Wing Alak licked his lips. A lot 
of Patrolmen got killed on the job, 
and it looked as if he would be an- 
other name on the list, and he per- 
sonally much preferred being a live 
coward to a dead hero. He did not 
have a single lethal weapon, and he 
was alone on a planet out to get him. 
It didn’t look good. 

The hall was old, a long dim struc- 
ture of gray stone, where only the 
leaping ruddy flames broke the chill 
dusk and where the hollow echoes 
were like voices of the dead centuries 
which had stirred bloodily here. 
Many a council had been held in the 
great chamber, the results being an- 
nounced with screaming war-horns 
and the clash of arms and armor, but 
perhaps none so dark as the secret 
meeting tonight. 

The twelve earls of Mordh were 
seated at the head of the huge an- 
cient table. Red firelight seemed to 
splash them with blood, throwing 
their grim bony faces into eerie visi- 
bility . against the sliding misshapen 
shadows. Outside the windows, the 
mighty autumn wind flung sleet and 
rain at the castle walls and roared 
about its towers. 

Dorlok, who had called the meet- 
ing, spoke first. His deep voice was 
low, and the storm snarled over and 
around its rumble : “To me, at least, 
the situation has become intolerable. 
When so-called honor clashes with 

11 




basic instincts— and just how much 
honor does our dead king have left? 
—there is only one choice if we wish 
to remain sane. The king must go.” 

Yorm sprang out of his seat. The 
light gleamed bloodily on his slitted 
yellow eyes. Three of his fists were 
clenched, the fourth half drew his 
dagger from its sheath. “Treason!” 
he gasped. 

“As you like.” Dorlok’s scarred 
face twisted in a snarl. “Yet I 
would say that we have a higher duty 
than our oath to the king. As earls 
of Mordh, which now rules the entire 
planet and thus our entire species, we 
are pledged to preserve the integrity 
of our race and traditions. This the 
king, corrupted by the she-devil 
Frann'a, has lost. He is no longer a 
warrior, he is a drinker and idler in 
his palace— the swords of Mordh 
rust, the people cry for battle, and he 
sits under the complete dominion of 
his mistress. This won’t be the first 
time a king has been deposed— and 
we will be driving her off the throne 
rather than him.” 

More than half of the earls nodded 
their heads in dark agreement. Val- 
tan murmured : “I wonder if she is 
of this planet at all? Could she not 
be some devilish robot invented by 
the Patrol’s unholy agents? Her 
very nature is alien to all we know.” 

“No, no, my agents have checked 
very carefully on her background,” 
said Dorlok. “She is the daughter 
of a Mordhan spaceman who sold 
her on Sol HI after he had run up a 
great gambling debj:— sold her to a 
man of the very Patrol which seeks 

12 



to destroy slavery, or says it does! 
Franna was educated in the Solar 
System, apparently with the ultimate 
object of becoming the king’s mis- 
tress. I have reason to believe plas- 
tic surgery was used to make her the 
most beautiful of our race, and cer- 
tainly her education in the arts of 
love— At any rate, she did come 
back here, enslaved the king, and 
now for ten years has run the coun- 
try— the planet— the system ! And— 
undoubtedly on behalf of the cursed 
Patrol !” 

“It was an evil day that the Galac- 
tic explorers landed here,” said Val- 
tan glumly. 

“To date, yes,” answered Yorm. 
“Of course, it was more or less acci- 
dental. If they had known we are a 
carnivorous people to whom combat 
is a psychological necessity, they 
would probably have left us in our 
feudal state. As it was, the introduc- 
tion of Galactic technology soon en- 
abled Mordh to subjugate the rest of 
the planet.” His yellow eyes flamed. 
“And now . . . now we could go out 
and fight on a more glorious scale 
than the old heroes dreamed ... go 
out conquering among the stars !” 

“Except that Franna holds the 
king slothful while we eat our hearts 
in tameness and kill ourselves in silly 
little private duels for lack of better 
occupation,” said Valtan. “But we 
are sworn b/'our honor to obey the 
king. What to do? What to do?” 

“Kill her,” snarled another. 

“Little use— the king would know 
who had done that, and have us all 
slain— and soon the Patrol would find 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




some other agent of control,” said 
Dorlok. “No, the king must go, 
too.” 

Yorm shook his head. “I won’t 
do it. No one in my family ever 
broke his word and I won’t be the 
first.” 

“It is a hard choice—” mused Val- 
tan. 

In the end, seven of the great earls 
of Mordh were prepared to assassi- 
nate the king. The others held back, 
but Dorlok had, before calling the 
meeting, sworn them to secrecy about 
it. They would not help in the kill- 
ing, but they would not hinder it and 
be glad enough to see it done. 

Dorlok swept his cloak about him. 
“I’ll let you know my arrangements 
tomorrow,” he said. 

He went to a certain remote room 
in the castle and let himself in with 
a special key. She was waiting, and 
his heart turned over at her loveli- 
ness. 

“Well ?” she asked. 

His voice was thick as he gave her 
the names of the rebellious earls. 
She nodded gravely. “I’ll see that 
they are arrested tonight,” she said. 
“They’ll have their choice— exile to 
the second planet or suicide.” 

Dorlok sat down, burying his head 
in two brawny hands, the other two 
hanging limp in his lap. “Now I’m 
forever damned,” he groaned. “I 
really, deep inside, believe in what 
I told them when I was provoking 
them. Those ‘weak links’ were actu- 
ally the hope of Mordh. And I’ve 
sold them— for you.” He lifted des- 
perate eyes. “And I’m even betray- 



ing my lord the king, with you,” he 
said hopelessly. “I love you— and I 
curse the day I saw you.” 

Franna stroked his mane. “Poor 
Dorlok,” she murmured softly. 
“Poor, helpless, honest warrior.” 

Alak abandoned his car in an allley 
near the spaceport and set out on foot 
through the dark tangle of narrow 
streets and passageways which was 
the Old City. The decayed district 
clustered on the west side of the port 
and its warehouses, and had become 
the hangout of most of the city’s 
criminal elements. It was not wise 
to go alone after dark through its 
dreary huddle, and twilight was be- 
ginning to creep over the capital. 
But Alak had no choice— and he 
had become used to such thieves’ 
quarters. 

Presently he located Yamen’s tav- 
ern and slipped cautiously past the 
photoelectric* doors. The place was 
crowded as usual with the sweep- 
ings of space, including a good many 
nonhumans from remote planets, and 
he was grateful for the dim light and 
the fog of smoke. There was a live 
show performing on a tiny stage, but 
even its nudity was no recommenda- 
tion and Alak did not regret having 
to sit with his back to it in order to 
watch the door. He sat at a small 
table in a dark corner and slipped a 
coin in the vendor for beer. When 
it arrived from the chute it was 
warm and thin, but it was at least 
alcoholic. He sipped it and sat 
gloomily waiting for something to 
happen. 



THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



13 




That didn’t take long. A Rassalan 
slithered into the chair opposite him. 
The reptile’s beadily glittering eyes 
searched under the man’s cowl. 
“Hello,” he said. “You might buy 
me a drink. Wouldn’t snub an old 
friend, would you?” 

“Hardly, when the old friend 
would let out a squawk as to my 
identity if I did,” said Alak wryly. 
He set the vendor for the acrid and 
ultimately poisonous vurzin to which 
he knew the Rassalan was addicted, 
and put in the coin. “How are 
things, Slinh?” he asked. 

“So-so.” The little dragonlike 
creature shrugged his leathery wings. 
“But the sivva-peddling racket is 
getting unsafe. Voal’s narcotics 
squad is cracking down. I can’t com- 
plain— made my share on this planet 
—but I’m about to leave Luan.” His 
black passionless eyes studied Alak’s 
foxy face. “I suppose you are, too.” 

“Why so?” asked the Solarian 
cautiously. 

“Look, Sarb Human— I might 
as well stick to the alias you’ve been 
giving around here, though the police 
have been broadcasting a certain 
other name for the past half hour or 
more— let’s be sensible. When an 
unknown with apparently limitless 
resources starts organizing the 
crooks of a planet for something big 
whose nature he won’t reveal ex- 
actly, a being who’s seen something 
of the Galaxy begins to have sus- 
picions. When the police suddenly 
pick up all this stranger’s contacts 
and start televising ‘Wanted’ notices 
for him with a different name and oc- 

14 



cupation appended— well, any high- 
grade moron can guess the story.” 
Slinh sipped his dric-k, adding 
smugly, “I consider myself a step 
above moron. Seems I have just 
now heard rumors of arrests in the 
army, too. Seems there has been a 
revolutionary tendency— Could the 
mysterious stranger have any con- 
nection ?” 

“Could be,” said Alak. He didn’t 
inquire into the nature of the so 
quickly spreading rumors, or how 
they had got started. Someday the 
Patrol must investigate the evidence 
hinting at some race in the Galaxy 
which had not chosen to reveal its 
telepathic abilities but to use them 
instead for private advantage. At 
the moment there was more urgent 
business. 

“I might have a little trouble leav- 
ing this planet,” said Alak. . “You 
might, too.” 

“I can always find a hiding place 
and go into hibernation for a few 
years till they forget about me,” said 
Slinh. “But a human at large might 
have difficulties even staying alive. I 
doubt if any Luanian crooks would 
help a”— he lowered his hissing voice 
—“Patrolman now that there’s a war 
on. In such times, the niob hys- 
teria officially known as patriotism 
infects all classes of society.” 

“True. But illogical. Patrolmen 
are more tolerant toward lawbreak- 
ers than local police.” 

Slinh shook his scaly head in some 
bewilderment. “I never could figure 
out the Patrol,” he said. “Even its 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




members of my own race I can’t un- 
derstand. Officially it exists to co- 
ordinate the systems of the Galactic 
League and to enforce the laws of the 
central authority. But after a while 
I quit paying attention to the stories 
of fabulous raids and . arrests by 
Patrolmen and began watching for 
myself and speaking to eyewitnesses. 
And y’know, I have not been able to 
verify one case of the Patrol acting 
directly against a crook. The best 
they ever do is give the local police 
some technical advice, and that’s 
rare. Pm beginning to syspect that 
the stories of the huge f*atrol battle 
fleet are deliberate lies and the 
stereographs of it fakes— that though 
the Patrol makes big claims, it’s 
never yet really arrested a criminal. 
In fact”— Slinh’s claws tightened 
about his glass— “it seems one of the 
most corrupt organizations in the 
Galaxy. Voal’s speech today was— 
true! I knoiy of more cases where 
it’s made alliance with crooks, or 
supported crooked governments, or 
engaged in crooked political deals, 
that I could easily count. Like in 
this case here— first the Patrol, on 
the feeblest ‘right of discovery’ ex- 
cuse, awards Lhing to the Marhalian 
System— Lhing, that was a Luanian 
development from the first- and then 
it seeks to overthrow the democrati- 
cally elected Luanian government 
and set up some kind of revolution- 
ary junta that’s sure to empty the 
public coffers before running for a 
distant planet. I don’t blame Luan 
for seceding from the League I” 
“You could turn me in,” said 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



Alak. “There must be a reward.” 

“Not I,” said Slinh. He grinned 
evilly. “The police don’t approve of 
sivva or those who sell it. Also, 
what’s Luan to me? They could 
blow up the planet for all I care— 
once I’m off it. And finally— it’s 
barely possible we could make a 
deal.” 

Alak ordered another beer and 
vurzin. “Pray continue,” he said. 
“You interest me strangely.” 

Despite his purpose, despite the 
knowledge he had and the implacable 
hostility which seethed within him, 
Sharr felt a stirring of awe as he 
entered the cathedral. The long nave 
loomed before him, a dusky im- 
mensity lit with the wonderful chro- 
matic sunlight that streamed through 
the stained-glass windows ; the 
vaulted ceiling was lost in a twilight 
of height through which fluttered 
white birds like living benedictions ; 
the heavy languor of incense was in 
the cool dark air, and music breathed 
invisible beauty about him from— 
somewhere. Here, he thought, was 
peace and security, rest for the 
weary and hope for the grieving— 

Aye, the peace and security of 
death, the resting from duty, and a 
false cold-bloodedly manufactured 
hope which destroyed souls. The 
magnificent shell of the cathedral 
covered a cosmic rottenness that— 

The archbishop stood waiting for 
him near the great altar, resplendent 
in the dazzling robes of the new 
church. He was of this planet, Crios, 
but tall and impressive, with the cold 

15 





wisdom of the Galaxy behind his 
eyes— the upper clergy of the new 
god were all Crians educated on 
League planets. Sharr was acutely 
conscious of his own shabby dress 
and his own ignorance of the cynical 
science that made miracles to order. 
No wonder all Crios was turning 
from the old faith to this lying devil 
who called himself a new god. 

“Greeting, my son,” said the arch- 
bishop sonorously. “I was told by 
my angel you w^ere coming hither 
and—” 

“I am not your son,” said Sharr 
flatly, “and I happen to know that 
your ‘angel’ is a creature from the 
stars who has to live in a tank but 

16 



has the unholy power to read men’s 
thoughts—” 

“That is blasphemy,” said the 
archbishop mildly, “but since you 
have been misled all your life, even 
to the extent of becoming a high 
priest of the false god, you will be 
forgiven this time.” 

“Oh, I know your artificial thun- 
derbolts— you must have some, all 
your other miracles are artificial— 
could smite me where I stand,” said 
Sharr wearily. “No matter. My 
knowledge will not die with me.” 

The archbishop’s' eyes narrowed. 
Sharr hurried on : “When the stran- 
gers first came from beyond the 
stars, they brought a great hope to 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



Crios. They cured us of many an- 
cient ills, they gave us machines 
which produced more abundantly 
than slaves ever could . . . oh, yes, all 
the nations of Crios were glad to 
unify and join their Galactic League 
as a whole planet. But now I see 
all this was but the mask of the Evil 
Ones.” 

“In what way?” asked the other. 
“Before, there was only one faith on 
Crios. Now all gods can compete 
equally. If the stronger— that is, the 
truer— gods drive the weaker from 
the hearts of the people, what harm ? 
Rather it is good. If your god is 
true, let him produce miracles such 
as ours.” 

“Let us not mince words,” said 
Sharr. “There is no one here but us. 
All Crios rejoiced at the possession 
of spaceships, for now we could 
bring the true faith to other worlds, 
saving countless sovds from the Evil 
Ones. But no sooner had we begun 
organizing a great crusade than you 
appeared— and your sly words and 
your false miracles and your ma- 
chine-made magnificence turn more 
and more Crian hearts to the god in 
which you yourselves do not be- 
lieve.” 

“How do you Know we don’t?” 

“Eew Crians have been to space, 
and most of those who went have 
returned as traitors like yourself,” 
said Sharr. “I went to see what 
power this Galactic lord of yours has 
elsewhere. I had my own ship and 
I used my own eyes. I saw that no 
other world had ever heard of him. 
I saw machines doing the same sort 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



of things which you do here, seem- 
ingly by the power of your god, to 
impress the ignorant— building your 
churches overnight, scattering gold 
from nowhere, turning one metal 
into another ; I saw creatures of hor- 
rible aspect which read minds— Oh, 
I began to see what your god really 
was. When I came back, I did a 
little investigation, I had my spies 
here and there— I know you for the 
cold-blooded liars you are.” 

“Why should we lie ? What is the 
point in preaching a false religion?” 
“Power, glory— I can think of 
many reasons, but my personal belief 
is' that you are agents of the Evil 
Ones, sent to destroy the great Crian 
crusade before it got started. Had 
all of this planet been pure in faith, 
the All-Father would have aided us 
and we would have swept the Galaxy 
before us into his fold— now we must 
first get rid of the false Galactic lord 
and then slowly, by prayer and re- 
pentance, win back our worthiness.” 
The archbishop smiled, a curi- 
ously chilling smile. “And how will 
you go about it?” he asked softly. 

“I have taken care that all priests 
of the true faith know what I do,” 
said Sharr. “It won’t help you to 
kill me. We will tell the truth to the 
people. We have prepared machines 
which will duplicate a number of 
your miracles.” Sharr lifted a 
clenched fist and his voice shook with 
triumph : “I came, really, to warn 
you— if you’re wise, you will leave 
this planet at once!” 

The expected dismay did not ap- 
pear. The archbishop said calmly 

17 




and implacably: “You might be bet- 
ter off doing that. Surely you don’t 
think we didn’t foresee this ?” 

With a sense of dawning horror, 
Sharr stood in the singing gloom 
while the white birds circled far 
overhead. He heard the steady, re- 
lentless voice continue : 

“I doubt if your machines will 
work. You never heard of an in- 
hibitor field, but we have our pro- 
jectors ready to generate one over 
the whole planet if need be. But it 
will not stop certain other devices 
we have had in preparation. If you 
blaspheme against the Galactic lord, 
major miracles will be in order. The 
lord himself might appear, ten kilo- 
meters tall with lightning blazing 
around him. Can your god do 
that?” 

“Then”— Sharr spoke out of a dry, 
constricted throat— “you admit it is 
true— ?” 

“If you like,” said the archbishop 
cheerfully. “But try to get anyone 
to believe that.” 

Slinh had a room— more accu- 
rately, a den— in one of the old aban- 
doned sewers- under the city. The 
little stony niche was dank and slimy 
and vile-smelling, but it was at least 
fairly safe from the police who were 
rounding up all aliens. Wing Alak 
sat hunched on the floor and cursed 
the day he was born. 

“This hideout may be saving my 
life,” he grumbled, “but I wonder if 
life is worth saving on such terms.” 

The little reptile coiled before him 
leered complacently. “It’s all I can 

18 



offer the great Patrolman,” he gibed. 
His eyes glistened in the dim glow 
of the radiant heater that was his 
sole article of furniture. “If you 
don’t like it—” 

“Never mind, never mind.” Alak 
tried to get down another mouthful 
of the fishy mess the Rassalan called 
food, but decided it involved too 
great a risk of losing what he already 
had eaten. “Now about this deal you 
offered to make— we have to act fast. 
Already we’re too late to prevent the 
war, but it’ll take the Luanian battle 
fleet a few days to get started for 
Marhal, or the Marhalians a few 
days to get to us. In that time we 
have to stop the war. Once battle is 
joined, it’ll be pretty hopeless before 
several million have been killed.” 

“Never mind the pious platitudes,” 
said Slinh coldly. “A being who 
makes deals with sivva peddlers can’t 
afford to moralize. The point is that 
I’m running a terrific risk in helping 
you and will expect a commensurate 
reward.” 

“Such as—?” 

“How about a million League 
credits ? That’s a good round num- 
ber.” 

“Done.” Alak reached for his 
checkbook. “Only I’ll give you my 
personal check. Then if I’m killed 
and you escape”— he grinned in the 
sullen red light— “itfll do you no 
good, because I haven’t near that 
much in my account. But if we both 
survive, the Patrol will transfer a 
million to me and you’ll get ’em.” 

“How do I know you won’t 
welsh?” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“You don’t.. But if you think back, 
you may recall that the Patrol has 
that much honor. Not that we have 
any notions about the sacredness of 
oaths— I’ve committed perjury often 
enough when the occasion called for 
it— but we don’t want to antagonize 
allies such as yourself. You, for in- 
stance, get around. You have con- 
tacts. We may have other jobs for 
you in the future.” 

“I may be a sivva runner,” said 
Slinh contemptuously, “but I haven’t 
yet sunk to being a Patrolman.” He 
took the check and laid it carefully in 
the purse worn about his neck. “Very 
well. Now I’ve given you a hideout, 
but you can’t stay here long. So I’ll 
help you along further in case you 
can find a way for us both to get off 
this planet.” 

“If I complete my job, we both 
will,” replied Alak. “If I don’t, it’ll 
be too bad— for me at any rate.” He 
looked into the dripping gloom of the 
tunnel. The light was like blood on 
his thin pale face. 

Slinh shivered. “You’re crazy as 
well as a crook,” he said. “Two 
hunted, weaponless beings against an 
armed system— Starfire, even 
stereofilms don’t indulge in that kind 
of trash any more.” He huddled 
closer to the heater. “Why doesn’t 
your glorious Patrol just bring its 
great battle fleet over here and tell 
the Luanians there’ll be peace or 
else? What kind of policeman is it 
that makes deals with criminals and 
skulks in old sewers?” 

Alak ignored the complaint. Pres- 
ently he stirred, holding cold hands 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



over the red glow. “Voal is officially 
only premier of Luan and its colonfes 
on other planets,” he said. “But he 
has influence enough to swing events 
as he wishes.” . 

“Unfortunately, he believes in 
what he says. You can’t bribe him.” 
“No, maybe not. Unless the price 
was sufficiently high— Look, he’s 
married. He has two little children, 
and I don’t think those pictures of 
him playing with them are all posed.” 
“If you’re thinking what I’m 
thinking—” began Slinh. “Anyway, 
the secret service guards—” 

Alak took the vibrosphere out of 
his pocket. “I fooled them with this 
once,” he said. “It’s a secret Patrol 
weapon and it may fool them again. 
It has to !” Briefly, he explained its 
operation. Then he went on, his 
voice rising with excitement : 

“Voal has a private estate in the 
country, about fifty kilometers from 
here. His family should be there— 
and you can carry a three-year-old 
child-” 

They sneaked out of the tunnel 
after dark, emerging in a narrow al- 
ley of the Old City. Crouching back 
into the shadows, they strained their 
senses— no, no vigilance beyond rou- 
tine patrols and the tension that lay 
like a shroud over the whole planet, 
the expectation of death from the 
skies. The whole capital huddled 
under its force dome, waiting for the 
hammer blows of hyperatomic bombs 
and gravity snatchers, the silent mur- 
der of radiodust and biotoxin and all 
the synthetic hell which could lay 

19 




waste a world in hours. Whether or 
mt the enemy bombardments could 
penetrate that shield was an open 
question— it was the business of the 
navy to see that the matter was never 
decided, by going to Marha! and 
blowing the system open before the 
Marhalians took off for Luan. 

Alak and Slinh went along the 
darkened walks. Not many beings 
were abroad, though the taverns 
shooks with an unnatural hysterical 
merriment. It was no trick to find a 
parked ground-air car and appropri- 
ate it with the help of Alak’s key. 
The difficulty would lie in escaping 
from the city. 

The Patrolman sent the car whis- 
pering into the sky, toward the dimly 
glowing force-field. In moments, the 
call screen was buzzing and blinking 
an angry red. Alak switched over 
to the police band, keeping his face 
cowled and shadowed. An indig- 
nant helmeted head glared out of the 
screen at him. 

“Where do you think you’re go- 
ing?” demanded the policeman. 

“Officer, I’ve got to get out of the 
city,” said Alak. “My wife and chil- 
dren—” 

“The screen isn’t lowered for any 
civilian in wartime. One second 
without protection and— Now get 
back on the ground where you be- 
long.” 

“Be reasonable, officer. If the 
Marhalians were within ten light- 
years you’d be alerted. I ... I wasn’t 
expecting war. I left my family up 
at North Pole Resort— that’s no place 
for them to be in wartime. They’ll 

20 



recall my wife anyway, she’s an 
electronician— ” 

“How many times must I— ” 

“Of course, I could take it up 
with my old friend Jeron Kovals,” 
said Alak, naming the city police 
chief, “but I didn’t think he’d want 
to be bothered—” 

“Well, there’s a lot of military and 
government traffice tonight. Wait 
till the next official car come? along, 
then you can go out with it.” 

“Thanks,” Alak snapped off the 
screen and let his body relax, mus- 
cle by muscle. It -was as much as 
he’d dared hope for. But if his theft 
was discovered while he waited— 

It wasn’t. The stolen car slipped 
past the lowered force-dome together 
with a long sleek black flier bearing 
several stars. Alak took a direct 
north course until the city was be- 
hind the horizon, then opened the 
car up and swung in a screaming arc 
for the Premier’s estate. 

Nighted countryside slipped be- 
neath him. The numbers represent- 
ing position co-ordinates changed on 
the car’s dashboard. He let the auto- 
pilot take over, and studied the land- 
scape below. 

“Mostly agricultural,” he said. 
“But . . . wait, there’s a pretty big 
region of forested hills. We’ll hide 
there.” 

“If we escape to hide,” said Slinh 
gloomily. 

When they were within a kilo- 
meter of Voal’s home, Alak halted 
the car and hung motionless on its 
gravity beams. “They’d detect a 
metal object coming any closer,” he 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




said. “I’ll wait here for you, 
Slinh.” 

Wordlessly, the reptile opened the 
door. His leathery wings flapped 
and the night swallowed him. 

The servants were wakened by a 
shout and the sound of falling bodies. 
A blaster roared in the dark. Some- 
one screamed, and there was heard a 
beating of wings out the nursery 
window. 

When order of a sort was restored, 
it was found that— something— had 
come into the room, rendering sev- 
eral guards unconscious on the way ; 
one, who had had a brief glimpse at 
which he had fired, swore it was a 
devil complete with tail and bat 
wings. Be that as it may. Alia, 
youngest daughter of the Premier of 
Luan, was missing, and a note ad- 
dressed to her father lay on the floor. 

He read it with his cheeks whiten- 
ing: 

Bring ten thousand League credits in 
unmarked bills tomorrow night at 0100 
hours to that island in the Mortha River 
lying one hundred and three kilometers 
due south-southwest of your country 
house. Do not tell police or make any at- 
tempt to use tracer beams or otherwise 
trail us, or you will not see your child 
again. 

The Zordoch of the Branna Kai 
was dead, and over the whole planet 
Cromman and such other planets of 
the system as had been colonized, 
there was mourning ; for the heredi- 
tary chief of the most powerful of the 
clans had been well loved. 

Duwan stood at the window and 
looked out over the great estate of 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



his fathers. Torches bobbed through 
the dusk, a long ceremonial proces- 
sion approached the castle with the 
slowness of ancient ritual. The 
weird skirl of pipes and the rolling 
thunder of drums rose in the eve- 
ning, breaking in a surf of sound 
against the high stone walls, surf 
that sent its broken spindrift up to 
the ears of Duwan. He savored the 
sound, hungrily. 

The Zordoch of the Branna Kai 
was dead ; and the chiefs of the clans 
were coming with their immemorial 
ceremonies to give the crown to his 
eldest son. 

A slave entered, genuflecting be- 
fore the tall arrogant figure, purple- 
robed and turbaned, that, stood be- 
fore the window. “Your pardon, 
lord,” he said fearfully, “but a 
stranger desires admittance.” 

“Eh?” Duwan scowled. The 
castle was closed to all but the slowly 
approaching chiefs. The old rituals 
were not to be disturbed, nor did 
Duwan wish distraction in this great- 
est of hours. He snarled his gather- 
ing anger : “I’ll have the warders’ 
heads for this.” 

“Sire,” mumbled the slave, “he 
did not come in by the gates. He 
landed on the roqf in an airship. He 
is not of Cromman, but from some 
strange world—” 

“Hm-m-m?” Duwan pricked up 
his ears, and an ominous tingle ran 
along his spine. He could not im- 
agine a Galactic having much inter- 
est in as newly discovered and back- 
ward a system as this. Later, of 
course, after a progressive had held 

21 




the Zordochy for a few years— but 
now— “Send him in.” 

The stranger came so quickly that 
Duwan suspected he had been on the 
way while the slave went ahead to 
get permission. ' The Crommanite 
recognized him as terrestrial, though 
he did not have the look of a So- 
larian— probably some colonist. What 
was more to the point, he wore the 
blue uniform of tbe League Patrol. 

The human bowed formally. 
“Your pardon,” he said, “but I am 
on an urgent mission.” He glanced 
out the window at the approaching 
torches. “In fact, I am almost too 
late.” 

“That is true,” replied Duwan 
coldly. “I must ask you to leave be- 
fore the chiefs reach the castle’s 
gates.” 

“My business can be accomplished 
in less time. I am, as you see, a rep- 
resentative of the Patrol— here are 
my credentials, if you wish to see 
them.” 

Duwan barely glanced at the 
papers. “I am familiar with the 
like,” he said. “After all, Crom- 
man has been in the League for al- 
most a century now, though we have 
had little outside contact.” He felt, 
somehow, irritated at the compul- 
sion, that he must explain the fact: 
“When we were introduced to space- 
ships and the like, we naturally 
wished to develop our own planet 
and its sisters first before venturing 
into other worlds. Also, most of the 
Zordochs were conservatives. But a 
newer generation of leaders is aris- 
ing— I myself, as you see, am about 

22 



to become head of the most influen- 
tial clan— and we will see some 
changes now.” 

“That is what I came about,” said 
the Patrolman. “It may seem 
strange, but I will make it short : I 
bear a most urgent request from 
Galactic headquarters that you refuse 
the crown when it is offered you to- 
night and direct that it be given to 
your younger brother Kian.” 

For a moment the sheer barefaced 
effrontery of it held Duwan para- 
lyzed. Then the black rage that 
made him grab for his sword was 
throttled by a grim control, and when 
he spoke his voice was unnaturally 
level ; “You must be mad.” 

“Perfectly sane, I assure you. But 
hurry, please, the procession will be 
here soon.” 

“But what imaginable reason— 
Why, Kian is more hopelessly con- 
servative than even my father— And 
the League constitution specifically 
forbids interference in the internal 
affairs of member planets—” Duwan 
shook his head, slowly, slowly. “I 
can’t comprehend it.” 

“The Patrol recognizes no laws 
save those of its own making— other- 
wise there is only immediate neces- 
sity,” said the human cynically. “I 
will tell you why we wish this later, 
if you desire, but there is no time 
now. You must agree at once.” 

“Why . . . you are just crazy—” 
The rage came again, bitter in Du- 
wan’s throat : “If you try to impose 
your will forcibly on Cromman, 
you’ll find that our boast of being a 
warrior race is not idle.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“There is no question of force. It 
is not necessary.” The Patrolman 
reached into his portfolio. “You 
traveled quite a bit through the 
Galaxy some years ago. And the 
moral code of Cromman is stern and 
inflexible. Those two facts are suffi- 
cient.” 

With, a horrible feeling of having 
stepped over the edge of the world, 
Duwan watched him extract a bun- 
dle of stereofilms, psychographs, and 
other material from his case. “When 
the chiefs arrive with t]jie crown,” 
said the Patrolman smugly, “I will 
explain that, while the League does 
not wish to meddle, it feels it to be a 
duty to warn its member planets 
against making mistakes. And the 
coronation of a Zordoch who had 
been guilty of, shall we say, moral 
turpitude in the fleshpots of the 
Galaxy, would be a definite mistake.” 
“But—” With a feeling of physi- 
cal illness, Duwan looked at the pic- 
tures. “But ... by the Spirit, I was 
young then—” 

“So you were. But will that mat- 
ter to Cromman?” 

“I . . . I’ll deny-” 

“Stereofilms could be faked, yes, 
but not psychographic recordings, 
and there are plenty of scientists on 
Cromman who know that. Also we 
could produce a Crommanite or two 
who had been with you—” 

“But— Oh, no!— Why, one of 
those Crommanites was a Patrolman 
who . . . who took me to that place—” 
“Certainly. In fact, just Isetween 
us— and I shall deny it on oath if you 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



repeat it in public— the Patrol main- 
tains that house and others like it, 
and makes a point of persuading as 
many influential and potentially in- 
fluential beings as possible to have a 
fling there. The records we get are 
often useful later on.” 

Duwan reached for his sword. The 
Patrolman said evenly : “If I fail to 
report back, this evidence will be 
made public. I think you will be 
wiser to refuse the Zordochy for rea- 
sons of . . . well, ill health. Then 
this information can safely gather 
dust in the Patrol’s secret files.” 

For a long, long moment Duwan 
stared at the sword. The tears 
blurring his eyes seemed like a film 
of rust across the bright steel. Then 
he clashed it back into its sheath. 

“I have no choice,” he said. “But 
when the League breaks its own 
laws, and employs the filthiest black- 
mailers to do the job, then justice 
is dead in the Galaxy.” 

Three days later, Alak’s agreed 
code call went over the Luanian tele- 
screens. Slinh received it and lifted 
the stolen car into the air. “Now- be 
quiet,” he told the dirty, tear-faced 
child with him. “We’re going back 
to Daddy.” He added to himself, 
“Of course, it’s possible that Daddy 
had Alak drugged or tortured to give 
the signal. That’s what I’d have 
tried. But if so, it’s only what the 
Patrolman deserves for leaving m'e in 
charge of this brat.” 

For fear of its radiations revealing 
his hidden car to searchers— metal 
detectors were dangerous enough- 



23 




Slinh had only turned the televisor 
on for a few seconds at the agreed 
hours. Now, as he listened to the 
newscasts, a dawning amazement 
held him motionless. “Marhal has 
offered compromise— Premier Voal 
in secret conference— Secession from 
League being reconsidered—” 

Holy Galaxy! Had Alak really 
•pulled it off? If a crook like that 
Patrolman, hunted and alone, could 
overturn a planet— 

Slinh set his vehicle down on the 
lawn of the Premier’s city residence. 
The force dome was down and only a 
few military craft were in sight. 
Peace— 

Tranis Voal stood before the house 
with his arm about his wife’s shoul- 
ders. There were no other officials 
in sight, with the possible exception 
of Alak. The Patrolman stood to 
one side, his hair like coppery fire 
in the sun, the look of a fox who has 
just raided a chicken coop on his 
sharp face ; but there was somehow 
a loneliness over him. Though he 
was the conqueror he was still one 
man against a world. 

Slinh led the child outside. Voal 
uttered a queer little choking cry 
and fell on his knees before her. 
When he looked up, tears gleamed in 
his eyes and ran down his haggard 
cheeks. “She’s, all right,” he choked. 
“She’s all right-” 

“Of course she’s all right,” said 
Alak impatiently. “Now that your 
government has gone too far toward 
peace to back down, I don’t mind 
telling you that no matter what your 
attitude would have been, she 

24 



wouldn’t have been harmed. Patrol- 
men may have no scruples, but we 
aren’t fiends.” He added slowly, 
somewhat bitterly, “Only a com- 
pletely honest man, a fanatic or a 
fool, can be really fiendish.” 

Slinh tugged at Alak’s sleeve. 
“Now will you tell me just what 
happened?” he hissed. 

“What I hoped for,” said Alak. 
“After you left me on the island and 
took the kid into hiding, I just 
waited. That night Voal showed up 
with the money.” 

“Hm-m-m— so you also got a little 
personal profit out of it,” said the 
Rassalan slyly. 

“I didn’t want his money, I didn’t 
take it,” said Alak wearily. “The 
ransom demand was simply a device 
to make him think a gang of ordinary 
kidnapers had taken the girl. If 
he’d known it was the hated and un- 
trustworthy Patrolman who had her, 
he’d probably have been out of his 
head with fear and loathing, have 
brought all the cops on the planet 
down on me, and . . . well, this way 
I got him alone and I had a club 
over his head. I told him the Patrol 
couldn’t weigh the life of one child 
against several million, perhaps bil- 
lion, and that we’d kill the kid if he 
didn’t listen to reason. He did. I 
came here with him, secretly, and 
used him as my puppet. With his 
emergency powers, he was able to 
stop the scheduled assault on Marhal 
and swing the government toward 
conciliation. A truce has been de- 
clared, and a League mediator is on 
the way.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Voal came over. The wrath that 
had ravaged his face still smoldered 
sullenly in his eyes. “Now that I 
have her back,” he said, “how do 
you know I’ll continue to follow your 
dictates ?” 

“I’ve come to know you in the 
last few days,” answered Alak coolly. 
“One thing I’ve found out is that, 
unlike me, you’re a perfectly honest 
man, and you want to do what you 
think is right. That makes it pos- 
sible for me to take an oath of sec- 
recy from you and reveal something 
which will— I hope— change your at- 
titude on this whole matter.” 

“That will have to be something 



extraordinary,” said Voal icily. 

“It is. If we could find a private 
place— ?” 

Slinh looked wistfully after the 
two men as they entered the house. 
He’d give a lot to eavesdrop on that 
conference. He had a shrewd sus- 
picion that the greatest secret in the 
Galaxy was about to be revealed— 
which could have been useful to him. 

They were in Voal’s study before 
Alak said : “I want to get over that 
barrier of hostility to me you still 
have. I think you’re objective enough 
to have seen in the last few days 
that the Patrol has no desire to op- 
press Luan or discriminate against 




THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



25 



it. Our job is to keep the peace, 
no more and no less, but that in- 
volves a paradox which we have 
only been able to resolve by methods 
unknown to policemen of any other 
kind. You can’t forgive my mur- 
derousness toward your child— but 
I repeat that there never was any. 
We would not have harmed her un- 
der any circumstances. But we had 
to make you think otherwis^^ till my 
job was done.” 

“I can stand it myself,” said Voal 
grimly. “But what my wife went 
through—” 

“That was tough, wasn’t it?” 
Suddenly the bitterness was alive 
and corrosive on Alak’s face. Con- 
tempt twisted his thin lips. “Yes, 
that was really rugged, all three 
days of it. Have you ever thought 
how many millions of mothers this 
holy war of yours would have left 
without any prospect of getting their 
children back?” 

Voal looked away from his bleak 
eyes and, for lack of better occupa- 
tion, began to fumble with bottles 
and glasses. Alak accepted his drink 
but went on speaking : 

“The basic secret of the League 
Patrol— and I want your solemn 
oath you will never breathe a word 
of it to anyone—” he waited till Voal 
gave agreement, “is this : The Patrol 
may under no circumstances take 
life. We may not kill.” 

He paused to let it it sink in, then 
added : “We have a few impressive- 
looking battleships to show the 
Galaxy and overawe planets when 

26 



necessary, but they have never 
fought and never will. The rest of 
the mighty fleet is— nonexistent ! 
Faked pictures and cooked news 
stories ! Patrolmen may have occa- 
sion to carry lethal weapons, but if 
they ever use them it means mne- 
monic erasure and discharge from 
the service. We encourage fiction 
about the blazing guns of the Patrol 
—we write quite a bit ourselves and 
call it news releases— but it has ab- 
solutely no basis in fact.” 

He smiled. “So, though we might 
kidnap your daughter, we would cer- 
tainly never kill her,” he finished. 

Voal sat down. His knees seemed 
suddenly to have failed him. But he 
looked up, it was with an expression 
that Alak found immensely cheering. 
He spoke slowly : “I can see why a 
reputation as formidable fighters 
would be a great asset to you— but 
why stop there ? Why can’t you stand 
up and fight honestly ? Why have you, 
instead, built up a record of such in- 
credible villainy that the worst crimi- 
nals of the Galaxy could not equal 
it?” 

Alak relaxed into a chair and sip- 
ped his cocktail. “It’s a long story,” 
he said. “It goes right back to the 
beginning of interstellar travel.” 

He searched for words a moment, 
then began : “After about three cen- 
turies of intercourse between the 
stars, it became plain that an unco- 
ordinated Galactic civilization would 
inevitably destroy itself. Consider 
the problems in their most elemen- 
tary form. Today there are over a 
million civilized stars, with a popu- 

ASTOUNDING SC I E N CE- FI CTION 




lation running up over ten to the 
fifteenth, and exploration adds new 
ones almost daily. Even if that popu- 
lation were completely uniform, the 
sheer complexity of administrative 
detail is inconceivable— why, if all 
government services from legislators 
to postmen added up to only one per- 
cent of the total, and no government 
has ever been that efficient, that 
would be some ten to the thirteenth 
individual beings in government ! 
Robocomputers help some, but not 
much. You run a system with a 
population of about two and a half 
billion, and you know yourself what 
a job that is. 

“And then the population is not 
uniform, but fantastically diverse. 
We are mammals, warm-blooded, 
oxygen breathing— but there are in- 
telligent reptiles, birds, fish, cephalo- 
pods, and creatures Earth never 
heard of, among the oxygen 
breathers alone— there are halogen 
breathers covering as wide a range, 
there are eaters of raw energy, there 
are creatures from worlds almost 
next to a sun and creatures from 
worlds where oxygen falls as snow. 
Reconciling all their needs and 
wants— 

“The minds and the histories of 
the races differ so much that no in- 
telligence could ever imagine them 
all. Could you think the way the 
communal race-mind of Sturvel’s 
Planet does? Do you have the cold 
emotions of a Vergan arthropod or 
the passionate temper of a Goldran? 
And individuals within the races 
usually differ as much as, say, hu- 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



mans do, if not more. And histories 
are utterly unlike. We try to bring 
the benefits of civilization to all races 
not obviously unfit— but often we 
can’t tell till too late. Or even . . . 
well, take the case of us humans. Sol 
has been at peace for centuries. But 
humans colonizing out among the 
stars forget their traditions until bar- 
barians like Luanians and Mar- 
halians go to war !” 

“That hurt,” said Voal very qui- 
etly. “But maybe I deserved it.” 

Alak looked expectantly at his 
empty glass. Voal refilled it and 
the Patrolman drank deep. Then he 
said : 

“And technology has advanced to 
a point where armed conflict, such as 
was at first inevitable and raged be- 
tween the stars, is death for one side 
and ruin for another unless the vic- 
tor manages completely to wipe out 
his foe in the first attack. In those 
three unorganized centuries, some 
hundreds of planets \yere simply 
sterilized, or even destroyed. Whole 
intelligent races were wiped out al- 
most overnight. Sol and a few allies 
managed to suppress piracy, but no 
conceivable group short of an over- 
whelming majority of all planets — 
and with the diversity I just men- 
tioned such unanimity is impossible— 
could ever have imposed order on 
the Galaxy. 

“Yet— such order was a necessity 
of survival. 

“One way, the ‘safest’ in a short- 
term sense, would have been for a 
powerful system, say Sol, to conquer 

27 




just as many stars as it needed for 
an empire to defend itself against all 
comers, without conquering too 
many to administer. Such a pro- 
cedure would have involved the per- 
manent establishment of totalitarian 
militarism, the murder or reduction 
to peonage of all other races within 
the imperial bounds, and the ulti- 
mate decadence and disintegration 
which statism inevitably produces. 

“But a saner way was found. The 
Galactic League was formed, to arbi- 
trate and co-ordinate the activities 
of the different systems as far as pos- 
sible. Slowly, over some four cen- 
turies, all planets were brought in as 
members, until today a newly discov- 
ered system automatically joins. The 
Leagfue carries on many projects, hut 
its major function is the maintenance 
of interstellar order. And to do that 
job, as well as to carry out any 
League mandates, the Patrol exists.” 

With a flash of defiance, Voal 
challenged: “Yes, and how does the 
Patrol do it? With thievery, brib- 
ery, lies, blackmail, meddlesome in- 
terference— Why don’t you stand 
up openly for the right and fight for 
it honestly ?” 

“With what?” asked Alak wearily. 
“Oh, I suppose we could maintain a 
huge battle fleet and crush any dis- 
obedient systems. But how trustful 
would that leave the others? How 
long before we had to wipe out an- 
other aggrieved world? Don’t for- 
get— when you fight on a planetary 
scale, you fight women and children 
and innocent males who had nothing 
whatsoever to do with the trouble. 

28 



You kill a billion civilians to get at a 
few leaders. How long before the 
injustice of it raised an alliance 
against us which we couldn’t beat? 
Who would stay in a tyrannical 
League when he conld destroy it? 

“As it is, the Galaxy is at peace. 
Eighty or ninety percent of all plan- 
ets know the League is their friend 
and have nothing but ])raise for the 
Patrol that protects them. When 
trouble arises, we quietly settle it, 
and the Galaxy goes on its unknow- 
ing way. Those something times 
ten to the fifteenth beings, are free to 
live their lives out without fear of 
racial extinction.” 

“Peace can he bought too dearly at 
times. Peace without honor—” 

“Honor !” Alak s]irang from his 
chair. His red hair blazed about the 
suddenly angry face. He paced be- 
fore V oal with a cold and bitter 
glare. 

“Honor !” he sneered. “Another 
catchword. I get so sick of those 
unctuous phrases— Don’t you real- 
ize that deliberate scoundrels do lit- 
tle harm, but that the evil wrought 
by sincere fools is incalculable ? 

“Murder breeds its like. For psy- 
chological reasons, it is better to pro- 
hibit Patrolmen completely from 
killing than to set up legalistic lim- 
its. But if we can’t use force, we 
have to use any other means that 
comes in handy. And I, for one, 
would rather break -any number of 
arbitrary laws and moral rules, and 
wreck a handful of lives of idiots 
who think with a blaster, than see a 
planet go up in flames or ... or see 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




one baby killed in a war it never 
even heard about !” 

He calmed down. For a while he 
continued pacing, then he sat down 
and said conversationally ; 

“Let me give you a few examples 
from recent cases of Patrol methods. 
Needless to say, this is strictly con- 
fidential. All the Galaxy knows is 
that there is peace— hut we had to 
use every form of perfidy and be- 
trayal to maintain it.” ■ 

He thought a moment, then began : 
“Sirius and Alpha Centauri fought 
a war just before the founding of the 
League which nearly ruined both. 
They’ve managed to reconstruct 
since, but there is an undying hatred 
between them. League or no League, 
they mean to he at each other’s 
throats the first chance they get. 

“Well, no matter what methods 
we use to hold the Centaurians in 
check. But on Sirius the govern- 
ment has become so hopelessly cor- 
rupt, the military force so graft-rid- 
den and inefficient, that action is out 
of the question. 

“Now a vigorous young reformer 
rose, honest, capable, popular, all set 
to win an election which would sweep 
the rascally incumbents out and bring 
good government to Sirius for the 
first time in three centuries. And— 
the Patrol bribed him to throw the 
election. He wouldn’t take the 
money, but he did as we said, because 
otherwise, as he knew, we’d make it 
the dirtiest election in even Sirian 
history, ruin his business and repu- 

THE DOUBLE-DYED VILLAINS 



tation and family life, and defeat him. 

“Why? Because, of course, the 
first thing he’d have done if elected 
would have been to get the military 
in trim. Which would have meant 
the murder of several hundred mil- 
lion Centaurians— unless they struck 
first. Sure, we don’t like crooked 
government either— but it costs a lot 
less in lives, suffering, natural re- 
sources, and even money than war. 

“Then there was the matter of an 
obscure barbarian system whose 
people are carnivorous and have a 
psychological need of combat. Im- 
agine them loose in the Galaxy ! We 
have to hold them in check for sev- 
eral generations until sublimation 
can be achieved. Fortunately, they 
are under an absolute monarch. A 
native woman whom 'Ijoe had edu- 
cated managed to become his mis- 
tress and completely dominate him. 
And when the great nobles showed 
signs of revolt, she seduced one of 
them to act as her agent provocateur 
and smoke out the rebellious ones. 

“Immoral? Sure. But two or 
three centuries hence, even the na- 
tives will thank us for it. Mean- 
while, the Galaxy is safe from them, 

“A somewhat similar case was a 
race by nature so fanatically religious 
that they were all set to go crusad- 
ing among the stars with all the 
weapons of modern science. We 
wrecked that scheme by introducing 
a phony religion with esoteric scien- 
tific ‘miracles’ and priests who were 
Patrolmen trained in psychotech-, 
nology— a religion that preaches 
peace and tolerance. A dirty trick 

29 ; 




to play on a trusting people, but it 
saved their neighbors— and also 
themselves, since otherwise their ex- 
tinction might have been necessary. 

“We really hit a moral bottom in 
the matter of another primitive and 
backward system. Its people are 
divided into clans whose hereditary 
chiefs have absolute authority. When 
one of the crown princes took a tour 
through the Galaxy, our agents man- 
aged to guide him into one of the 
pleasure houses we maintain here 
and there. And we got records. Re- 
cently this being succeeded to the 
chiefship of the most influential clan. 
We were pretty sure, from study of 
his psychographs, that before long 
he would want to throw off the 
League ‘yoke’ and go off on a spree 
of conquest— it’s a race of warriors 
with a contempt for all outsiders. So 
—the Patrol used those old records to 
blackmail him into refusing the job 
in favor of a safely conservative 
brother. 

“Finally we come to your present 
case. Marhal was ready to fight for 
the rich prize of Lhing, and the 
League arbitrator, underestimating 
the determination of Luan, awarded 
the whole planet to them. That was 
enough to swing an election so that a 
pro-League government came into 
power there. I was sent here to 
check on your reactions, and soon 
saw a serious mistake had been made. 
War seemed inevitable. I tried the 
scoundrelly procedure of fomenting 
sabotage and revolution. After all, 
that damage would have been neg- 



ligible compared to the cost of even 
a short war.’’ 

“The cost to Marhal,” said Voal 
grimly. 

“Maybe. But after all, I had to 
think of the whole Galaxy, not Luan. 
Sometimes someone must suffer a 
little lest someone else suffer a lot 
more. At any rate, my scheme 
failed. I resorted to alliance with a 
dope smuggler— he ruins a very few 
lives, while war takes them by the 
millions— and to kidnaping. I threat- 
ened and bluffed until you had 
backed up so far that mediation was 
possible. 

“Well, that’s all, then. The 
League commission is on its way. 
They’ll have some other fat plum to 
give Luan in place of Lhing— which 
I suppose will make trouble else- 
where for the Patrol to settle. Your 
government will have to go out of 
power after such an about-face— 
you’re rejoining the League, of 
course— but I daresay it’ll soon get 
back in. And you have been en- 
trusted with a secret which could 
split the Galaxy wide open.” 

“I’ll keep it,” said Voal. He 
smiled faintly. “From \vhat I know 
of your methods— I’d better !” Fora 
moment he hesitated, then : “And 
thanks. I w'as a fool. All Luan was 
populated by hysterical fools.” He 
grimaced. “Only I still wonder if 
that isn’t better than being a rogue.” 

“Take your choice,” shrugged 
WingAlak.. “As long as the Galaxy 
keeps going I don’t care. That’s my 
job.” 



THE END 



30 



ASTOUNDING S C I E N C E- FI CTION 




RESTRICTED 



PROGRESS REPORT 



Progress Report, Third Quarter, 
1949 

From: Northeastern Divisional 
Laboratories 

EtSH Area, Massachusetts 
[To; National Council on Science 
and Technology 
Washington, D. C. 

(by courier) 

File Number : 5.S91-JHP 
Introduction: 

This is to be considered as a cov- 
ering report, summarizing the work 
of the past three months in our sev- 
eral divisions. Fuller discussions 
with greater experimental detail will 
be forthcoming at the end of the 
year, in accordance with directive 
37-A. A complete listing of the 
personnel connected with each di- 
vision will be found in the attached 
75-ca forms. 

In general, the total progress of 
the work plans has been highly sat- 
isfactory, due principally to our ac- 
tive and progressive staff, who are 
to be commended for their successful 
attack on a number of problems, 
which are reported on below. 



A. Thiotimoline Project Division. 

Work on the determination of the 
structure, the synthesis, and further 
applications of thiotimoline has been 
carried on rapidly under the stimulus 
of a rapidly expanding staff. Scien- 
tific interest in this material has re- 
mained high ever since the prelimi- 
nary announcements of its unique 
endochronic properties by Dr. Asi- 
mov ; we are fortunate in having his 
services as Acting Thiotimoline Co- 
ordinator. 

Effort has been directed both at in- 
creasing the amounts of the natural 
material to be obtained from the 
rose— Rosacea karlsbadensis rufo, 
Linn.— at improving purification 

methods, and at carrying out the 
laboratory synthesis of the com- 
pound. Dr. Algird has shown that 
the carbon skeleton of the thioti- 
moline molecule is undoubtedly the 
same as that of yohimbine, since 
physiological studies have shown 
that both molecules possess many of 
the same desirable properties. Sys- 
tematic degradation studies with 
these materials show that to a large 
extent, the degree of degradation 
possible is directly proportional to 
the amount of experience of the 



PROGRESS REPORT 



31 




chemist, and the purity and yield- 
point of the material desired. 

The nutritional experiments with 
selenium compounds applied to se- 
lected cuttings of the Rosacea have 
made it possible to carry out the bio- 
synthesis of selenotimoline, the se- 
lenium homolog of thiotimoline. Not 
only does this material possess the 
endochromic properties of thiotimo- 
line but shows as well a selective 
reactivity to light that is not too sur- 
prising considering the known sensi- 
tivity of selenium itself. Selenoti- 
moline darkens on exposure to light 
before the photons strike it, possibly 
by some amplification of the preced- 
ing probability wave function. The 
Polaroid Corporation has shown a 
great deal of interest in this applica- 
tion, and at present is working on a 
modification of the Land sixty-sec- 
ond camera which will give the pho- 
tographer a positive print of a scene 
before he snaps the shutter. The 
potential value of this invention in 
saving film that might have been 
taken of undesired subjects, is,' of 
course, obvious. Part of this work, 
however, is at present under military 
secrecy regulations because of the 
interest of the Air Force in applying 
these phenomena to directors and 
predictors for antiaircraft fire. 

We would like to digress from the 
purely technical to report upon and 
discuss certain repercussions from 
abroad from our earlier thiotimoline 
publications. Recently, editorials in 
Pravda have stated : “The bourgeois 
mysticism of the kept scientists of 
the plutocracies can best be shown 

32 



in their true antidemocratic light by 
their fantastic claims for thiotimo- 
line. As Harley-Short has pointed 
out in his article on ‘Determinism 
and Free Will’, the observations re- 
ported for thiotimoline are in direct 
contradiction to the Marxian princi- 
ples of dialectic materialism, since 
there would no longer remain an or- 
derly sequence of cause and effect. 
This is merely an obvious effort to 
foist off upon unwary scientists the 
discredited idealistic ‘principle’ of 
uncertainty first enunciated by the 
Nazi Heisenberg and taken up by 
the Copenhagen-Brookhagen school. 
The scientists of the West, unless 
they refuse to adhere to thiotimoline, 
Morgan-Mendelism, and Heisen- 
bergism, will have much to learn of 
truth in science. 

“Furthermore, it is well known 
that thiotimoline was originally dis- 
covered by a Russian as long ago as 
1808. In beautiful lines well known 
to every Russian school child, Dr. 
Zhelezno Gordinok said : 

‘Time, time, and so it goes— 
Look in the petals of the rose.’ 
Production of thiotimoline in the 
peoples’ democracies will be doubled 
in 1950.” 

There is little that we need to add 
to the above, with the exception of 
the fact that as far as we can learn. 
Dr. Gordinok’s lines are merely a 
translation of a part of a familiar 
poem by Robert Herrick (1591) 
which reads : 

“Gather ye rose buds while ye may. 

Old Time is still a-flying.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




B. Division of Medical Chemistry and 
Health Physics 

One of the most interesting results 
of this section’s work has been an 
improved technique for the treat- 
ment of plutonium poisoning. It has 
been known for some time that the 
principal toxic effect was due to the 
extremely high specific alpha-particle 
activity of Pu— 14 x 10® disintegra- 
tions/ second milligram. Acting upon 
the well-known laboratory observa- 
tion that alpha particles are stopped 
by a few thicknesses of paper, Dr. 
Nelson Eugen and his co-workers 
carried out the experiments of inject- 
ing suspensions of cellulose fibers— 
Laboratory grade Filter-Aid— direct- 
ly into the veins of laboratory ani- 
mals which had been given normally 
lethal doses of plutonium salts. None 
of the animals died of plutonium poi- 
soning, As soon as the disadvan- 
tages of the method have been re- 
moved, it is hoped to be applied to 
human patients. 

Bl. Nuclear Physics and Radio-Chem- 
istry 

The separation of “light hydro- 
gen” by our Isotope Separation 
group is felt here to rank in im- 
portance with the separation of 
“heavy hydrogen” by Urey in 1932. 
It is, of course, too early for specu- 
lations of this type to be made, but it 
is hoped at our laboratories that an- 
other Nobel prize may be awarded 
for our work in this new field. 

In many ways, the discovery of 
light hydrogen is the story of the 
triumph of persistence, inspiration, 



ingenuity and brilliance over the 
well-known innate perversity of in- 
animate objects. A grant of five 
million dollars from the United 
States Navy was also very helpful., 

It will be remembered that the 
first minute samples of heavy water 
were obtained by the repeated elec- 
trolysis of ordinary water ; the heavy 
water was found to be concentrated 
in the last residues remaining after 
hundreds of liters had been fraction- 
ated in this manner. It was hoped 
that in the same way, we could ob- 
tain a light hydrogen from the first 
fractions of the electrolysis. This, 
however, did not produce the ex- 
pected effects ; later work on the elec- 
trolytic properties of light hydrogen 
have shown that little, if any, separa- 
tion may actually be expected in this 
way, since the differences in decom- 
position potenials are negligibly 
small. 

Many of the techniques which had 
been applied on the Manhattan 
Project were tried : plasma diffu- 
sion, centrifugal excitation, cavital 
insonance, velocital spectroscopy, 
and even the use of the high-speed 
subterfuge. None proved success- 
ful. Several workers had previously 
postulated that differences in molar 
spin ratios which would be charac- 
teristic of the two atomic species 
when deactivated below their ground 
states could be used effectively for 
separation if the proper scalar fields 
could be formed and stabilized in a 
nonoxidizing atmosphere. It was 
finally concluded, after months of 
preliminary calculations by our 



PROGRESS REPORT 



33 




Topological Ballistics Group, that 
these apparently contradictory re- 
quirements could be satisfied within 
a narrow range of fugacity. The 
first test apparatus worked even bet- 
ter than had been expected ; normal 
conductivity water was circulated 
continuously and counter-currently 
over a predeactivated gelated com- 
plex. The light fractions from this 
run were then subjected to a vapor- 
phase chromatographic absorption, 
a procedure only preciously used in 
the separation of the cis and trans 
isomers of ethylene. 

The final stage of separation in- 
volved passage of the light fraction 
—as measured by the falling drop 
method— through a hot tube filled 
with twenty-mesh zinc, followed by 
passage of the hydrogen so obtained 
through -a five-ampere, four-hun- 
dred-volt arm under a pressure of 
five to eight atmospheres. The gas 
so obtained has a density of approxi- 
mately half that of ordinary hydro- 
gen, which had previously been con- 
sidered to be the lightest known and 
lightest possible gas. 

Further research is being vigor- 
ously pursued on the nuclear, chemi- 
cal, and physical properties of this 
material. It may be expected to 
influence current thought and theory 
in many fields. 

We have been exceptionally for- 
tunate in our study of high-energy 
particles in having the use of the 
recently-completed billion-volt octo- 
tron. This “atom-smasher”, as it 
has been called in the popular press, 
works on the principle that instead of 

34 



having only one circular orbit, as in 
the betatron and the synchrotron, 
two circular orbits are produced in 
the Siamese-twin assembly of ac- 
celerating fields. When these two 
circular fields intersect tangentially, 
the complete orbital pattern is that 
of a figure “8”, from which the name 
“octotron” was derived. Aid in the 
form of a large grant of money will 
shortly be forthcoming from the Bal- 
lantine Corporation of America for 
the construction of a similar device 
employing three intersecting orbits. 

By the usual methods of vectorial 
deletion, it may be seen that because 
of the moving frame-of-reference 
system of the two intersecting beams, 
remarkably high-energy particles 
may be produced. Previous work- 
ers at MIT, Berkeley, and the Clinch 
College for Nuclear Knowledge have 
produced particles with masses of 
about 350-600 times that of the elec- 
tron. To produce these mesons, en- 
ergies of the order of magnitude of 
200-500 million electron-volts were 
required. In our equipment, near 
energies of one billion electron- 
volts, we observed particles with a 
rest mass of 1800 i 200 times .that 
of the electron. Sufficient of these 
super-heavy mesons have been col- 
lected by the use of decelerating 
fields to reveal that in large enough 
quantity, they possess nearly all the 
properties of ordinary hydrogen 
atoms. The significance of the dis- 
covery is not at present clear, and 
much further investigation will prob- 
ably be necessary. 

Our radiochemical section has 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




been rather inactive, because of ex- 
perimental difficulties. However, 
the section investigating isotope ex- 
change has been quite successful. We 
have sent a number of samples of 
radio oxygen and radio fluorine to 
other laboratories, and have obtained 
a number of other isotopes in return. 

C. Chemistry 

For a number of years, the atten- 
tion of colloidal scientists, physical 
chemists, and others investigating 
the properties of solutions have been 
devoted to studying the effects of 
surface-active agents— that is, the 
soaps, detergents, wetting agents, et 
cetera, which by concentrating at the 
surface or interface of the solution, 
reduces its surface tension and thus 
change the behavior of the liquid. 
All of the usual phenomena of laun- 
dering, flotation recovery of min- 
erals, bubble baths, et cetera, are the 
more commonly observed examples 
of this action. Not so well known 
are the materials which instead of 
decreasing the surface tension, tend 
to increase it by the so-called vol- 
ume-active effect. Because of their 
potential military uses, we cannot 
give further details of the structure 
or synthesis of these materials ; but 
a few examples of their mode of ac- 
tion might be of interest. 

We were able to increase the sur- 
face tension of water to the point 
where it refused to flow into a pipe 
unless it was over five feet in diam- 
eter. This produced some rather 
unusual difficulties in our new 
laboratories, when some of the VAC 



-Volume-active colloid— was acci- 
dentally spilled in the sink. It §o 
happened that this sink was being 
used to discharge the flow of a bank 
of Soxhlet extractors. The water 
immediately became volume-acti- 
vated, and refused to flow down the 
two-inch drainpipe. Before it was 
observed, the spheroid had grown 
to its maximum diameter of five 
point three feet. The sink collapsed 
under the load of some two point five 
tons of water, the spheroid fell 
through the floor into the labora- 
tory below— fortunately empty— and 
bounced out through the casement 
window, carrying most of the frame 
with it. 

The final removal of the spheroid 
was accomplished by the use of a 
small power crane and a rigging 
crew supplied by Blone and Shed- 
ster. Construction Engineers. Since 
then, we have learned better ways of 
controlling VAC and of decontami- 
nating anything with which it has 
come in contact. Decontamination is 
a particularly vital part of the re- 
search program being carried out 
here, since the material is so vicious 
to handle. Because of the polar 
structure of the molecules, it has no 
effect on nonpolar solvents, and so 
may be readily handled in benzene 
or carbon tetrachloride solution. If 
a few milliliters of a two percent 
solution is injected into a guinea 
pig, the effect is almost incredible. 
Nothing happens for a few seconds; 
then as the VAC disperses into the 
body fluids, the surface tension of 
the water contained therein increases 



PROGRESS REPORT 



AST-2K 



35 




by a number of orders of magnitude 
and the poor creature is transformed 
into a cool spherical object, looking 
for all the world like a furry tennis 
ball. So far, we have been ex- 
tremely careful, and probably more 
than a little lucky ; no accidents have 
happened to any of the laboratory 
staff. Surface active-agents of the 
nonionic type have so far been found 
to be the only effective decontami- 
nant. 

The cooling effect mentioned 
above is caused by the transforma- 
tion of heat energy into a corre- 
sponding amount of surface energy. 
Possible use of this phenomenon in 
producing refrigeration will prob- 
ably not succeed, because of the un- 
desirable accompanying effects al- 
ready mentioned. 

The Synthetic Organic Group, at 
present under the direction of Dr. 
Herman Edwards, has been continu- 
ing work on compounds with a high 
nitrogen content. Particular atten- 
tion has been directed towards the 
heterocyclic systems, since it is 
thought that the high degree of 
nuclear resonance and pi-orbital ex- 
change energy would stabilize the 
otherwise easily-decomposed mole- 
cules. Benzene, which has the 
formula CcHb, arranged hexagon- 
ally, has for a chemical cousin the 
molecule pyridine Cr.Hr.N, in which 
one of the — CH = units has been 
replaced by — N = . Pyrazine, 
C4H4N2; triazine, C3H3NR; and 
tetrazine, C2H2N4 are all known; 
and further work is under way on 
the replacement of still more of the 

.36 



carbon by nitrogen. Pentazine, 
CHNs, and hexazine, Ne, will be ex- 
ceptionally interesting molecules, 
both from a theoretical and practical 
viewpoint. Small amounts of a pur- 
plish-red solid have been prepared 
which is believed to be a hexazine; 
but the material decomposed almost 
immediately into three molecules of 
nitrogen gas. It is somewhat more 
stable at low temperatures and high 
acidities ; it is hoped to be able to 
keep it at a pH of from —1 to — 2 . 
Stabilizing solvents of the type of 
the bisozonide of dinitroacetylene are 
being investigated. Octazine, Na, 
which is analogous to cyclooctatet- 
raene, will also be of interest as soon 
as the suitable conditions of poly- 
merization of the nitrogen analog of 
acetylene are established. 

The Carbohydrates Research 
Group has been recently reorgan- 
ized, following the dismissal of Dr. 
Shugar, whose discovery of water- 
soluble cellulose had been considered 
such a forward step in the field. 
However, in view of the highly un- 
favorable publicity attendant upon 
the results of his gift of a complete 
set of water-soluble bathing .suits to 
the Wellesley swimming team, it was 
considered advisable to part with his 
services. We consider ourselves for- 
tunate in olrtaining the leadership of 
Dr. Staerke, of the University of 
Zuriick. This young and energetic 
chemist has already made a number 
of interesting discoveries. 

Almost all known sugars are char- 
acterized by their optical rotation, or 
the angle through which a standard 

ASTOUNDING SCI E N C K - F ICTIO N 




solution of the sugar twists the plane 
of polarized light. A new sugar has 
been isolated in milligram yields 
from three tons of Jerusalem arti- 
chokes, using hyperbolic polarog- 
raphy. The sugar is birefringent, 
bending the plane of polarization 
both to the right and the left. Be- 
cause of this exceptional behavior, it 
has already received the name of 
“ambidextrose”. 

Through a misunderstanding, an 
unfortunate error was made by our 
chemical engineering design divi- 
sion ; a complete pilot plant was 
built completely upside down, due 
to a misinterpretation of the nature 
of invert sugar. This plant was 
originally constructed for the pur- 
pose of preparing absolute alcohol. 
The error has since been rectified 
one hundred percent. 

The microchemical work involved 
in these researches has been greatly 
facilitated by the development in our 
laboratories of a new process for 
preparation of microchemical equip- 
ment. Some of the details in the 
manufacture of Coming’s Vycor 
glass which hajre been released sug- 
gested the methods whicfi'were per- 
fected here. In the Corning process, 
“a special glass of apparently nor- 
mal characteristics is treated by a 
new and unique process in which 
practically all the constituents other 
than silica are removed by leaching 
in hot chemical solutions. . . . The 
silica residue after being washed, 
dried slowly, and finally fired at care- 
fully controlled high temperatures, 
becomes a transparent vitreous glass 



of simple chemical composition.” 
This glass, containing ninety-six 
percent silica, is similar in most of 
its properties to fused quartz, which 
is of course, one hundred percent 
silica. The Corning process was 
carried one step further, however ; a 
second leaching was made, using hy- 
drofluoric acid ; this leached out the 
ninety-six percent silica, leaving be- 
hind only a fragile network of the 
residual four percent borates, et 
cetera. When this was fired, after 
considerable shrinkage, a minute 
replica of the original piece of glass- 
ware was obtained. -In this way, it 
has been possible to shrink a one- 
liter beaker to a microcup of only 
two cc. capacity. This has proven 
to be most successful in shrinking 
special apparatus, such as Podbelniak 
columns, separatory funnels, and 
Soxhet extractors, which were al- 
ways considered to be impossible to 
make on a small scale because of the 
inherent difficulties of microglass- 
blowing. 

The plastics division of the 
Chemical Technology Section has 
had under way two main courses of 
research. The ion-exchange resin 
group, which was recently taken over 
by the well-known woman chemist, 
Dr. Polly Marek, has successfully 
extended the usually ion-exchange 
systems to include the inorganic-or- 
ganic exchange. Resin S.SL will re- 
move hydrogen ions from ordinary 
water, replacing them by the organic 
ethyl radical, C2H,5— . The effective- 
ness of the reaction, its cheapness, 
and its convenience, probably ac- 



PROGRESS REPORT 



37 




count for its wide popularity among 
chemists and laymen alike. The 
resin has already reached com- 
mercial production, and is being of- 
fered in a number of forms. It may 
be bought in the form of attachments 
to the kitchen water faucet, or may 
be installed directly in fifty-gallon 
units at the time of construction of a 
house. Drinking glasses constructed 
of the material will shortly be of- 
fered, and buyer interest, as shown 
by marketing surveys, is already at 
a level best described as high. 

Dr. Welcher has long been inter- 
ested in the phenomenon of “plastic 
memory”, that is, the way in which 
certain thermoplastic materials may 
be bent out of shape when heated. 
After cooling, they will hold their 
new shape, but upon heating, will 
“remember” their previous shape 
and return to it again. Dr. Welcher 
has been applying the recently eluci- 
dated Shope-Keehan theory of 
quantum psychology to understand 
the attitude of mind of the rnolecules 
and has received highly informative 
answers to the question of “what 
does a plastic have to remember?”. 
Further work will be carried out to 
determine if a plastic can anticipate 
as well as remember and forget. 
Materials of this type would be 
highly valuable commercially for the 
fabrication of automobile bumpers 
that could duck, for instance. 

D. Materials and Processes 

Our theoretical division of the 
spectroscopic wing was particularly 
interested in the action of square- 

38 



pulsed polarized light on shifting ab- 
sorption bands. However, for the 
construction of the optical set-ups 
necessary, including absorption cells, 
codiscursive refractors, and azalon 
gratings, it was necessary to have 
exceptionally pure crystals of quartz, 
since the impurities caught between 
the crystal faces exerted a disruptive 
effect on the advancing pulse front. 
The best Brazilian quartz crystals 
were unsatisfactory for this purpose, 
and we found it necessary to attempt 
the growth in our laboratories of 
hyper-pure synthetic quartz, apply- 
ing some of the techniques developed 
by the Germans during the war, and 
adapted to our purposes by the modi- 
fications developed at the Jacob 
Wirth Foundation. It was found, 
however, that these crystals, while 
still much superior to anything pre- 
viously available, were still giving 
us trouble, because of the materials 
absorbed on the crystal faces during 
growth. 

A new and daring approach was 
called for, and was supplied to us by 
some of the developments of our Ap- 
plied Topology Group, who work 
closely with all other divisions when 
some problem arises that requires 
their attention. Continuing beyond 
the discoveries of Mobius, who first 
created a geometrical figure with 
only one surface and one edge, and 
whose “bottle” was the first figure 
with only one surface and no edges, 
these intrepid investigators have dis- 
covered a new mathematical form 
with no edges and no surfaces. Natu- 
rally, even though the new form for 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




which a design patent is to be is- 
sued, is remarkable in its simplicity, 
its fabrication in usual materials has 
presented remarkable difficulties. 
Occasionally in nature, curved crys- 
tals of quartz are formed, due to 
peculiar sets of geochemical condi- 
tions. These conditions involved 
thermal differentials and osmotic 
tensions within a narrow range. By 
integrating these thermal differen- 
tials in our quartz crystallizing baths, 
the phasing of the slip bands was 
controlled to the point where it was 
found to be possible to make the 
quartz grow into the desired holo- 
tropic shape. Surface contamination 
was completely eliminated, since 
there was no surface. 

We regret, however, that this has 
led us up a blind alley as far as our 
original objective is concerned, since 
these holotropes are completely use- 
less for optical purposes, because re- 
fraction and reflection only take place 
at surfaces. We are here faced with 
the paradox of a material with an 
imaginary index of refraction. 

A remarkably ingenious approach 
to a very old problem has given us 
a new material for laboratory and in- 
dustrial use : transparent metal ! The 
number of possible applications are 
limited only by the cost of the ma- 
terial ; and it is hoped that when 
quantity production is under way, 
that the cost may be substantially re- 
ducecj. This material is not in com- 
petition with the recently announced 
NESA glass, which is electrically 
conducting, yet still transparent ; the 
glass still remains glass with its in- 

PROGRESS REPORT 



herent limitations of brittleness and 
fragility. True transparent metal 
was known for many years in the 
form of gold leaf, which when pro- 
duced by laborious handwork, could 
be made thin enough to transmit a 
small amount of greenish light, com- 
plementary to the golden color ob- 
served by reflected light. This sug- 
gested that if thin enough layers of 
platinum black could be prepared, 
that the light of the complementary 
color of white would be transmitted. 
Such was found to be the case, and 
by use of lamination techniques of 
the plywood industry and further 
worked out by the ham-sandwich 
division of our Department of Phar- 
macology, transparent layers up to 
0.1 millimeters in thickness were 
produced. However, considerable 
light loss by internal reflections and 
scatterings cut down on the efficiency 
of the material, giving an undesirable 
bluish-gray color to the light. Use 
of vaporized fluoride layers, of the 
same type as have been found effec- 
tive for reducing internal reflections 
in camera lenses, was found to be 
the final step towards success. 
Platinum black is usually regarded 
as being an expensive material ; but 
ways have been found to reduce the 
amount needed, and investigations 
are being carried out for the devel- 
opment of substitute materials. Pre- 
liminary work has shown that we can 
expect to obtain similarly useful ma- 
terials using the more easily obtain- 
able carbon black. 

The work on the fire-fighting and 
prevention project, which we had 

39 




undertaken at the request of the Air 
Force has been somewhat handi- 
capped by several unfortunate acci- 
dents. Our main program of re- 
search has been devoted to the study 
of the initiation of chain reactions 
at the time of kindling of a fire. It 
has been long known that reaction 
will not start in a completely dry 
mixture of even such highly reactive 
systems as hydrogen and oxygen or 
hydrogen and fluorine. We have 
succeeded in preparing a stabilized 
aerosol, or air-suspended colloid, of 
phosphorus pentoxide, which is the 
most effective drying agent known. 
With small aerosol bombs similar to 
those now being used to dispense 
DDT, it has been possible to smother 
fires completely by drying them up 
at their source. This technique will 
not work if the conventional fire- 
fighting methods are used simul- 
taneously. An accidental explosion 
in one of our experimental units 
resulted in the liberation of large 
volumes of the aerosol ; three of our 
most valuable chemists were dehy- 
drated to the point where they were 
totally reduced to mummies. A small 
monument, in the shape of a pyra- 
mid, has been raised in their mem- 
ory, and all experiments of further 
research are now conducted under 
the most rigorous safety precau- 
tions. 

E. Cybernetics and Robotonics 

The section under this division 
which is particularly interested in 



the classification and codification of 
scientific information, has obtained 
valuable results which .promise to 
have far-reaching implications in a 
number of related fields. We have 
been using punched cards of the 
usual IBM type, into which informa- 
tion has been inserted by means of 
various codes, such as the Dysonian 
code for Organic compounds, the 
Zator-Cargyle code for abstracts of 
abstract concepts, the Young-Mavin 
code for studying semantic intercor- 
relations and internal contradictions 
of other codes, and the Turnonanoff 
binary switching code. We believe 
our most inductive new concept has 
been that of the introduction of the 
blank, or unpunched card into 
punched-card codification ; this is be- 
lieved to rank in significance with 
the invention of the zero in mathe- 
matical notation. This application 
of this new concept to work in other 
fields is under study at present by 
our Applied Philosophy and Se- 
mantic Kinetics Divisions. 

Conclusions: 

We feel that work has progressed 
in a highly satisfactory manner on 
all projects under our contracts. Be- 
cause of the shortage of trained per- 
sonnel, we do not believe it advisable 
to expand our research program at 
this time. 

Respectfully submitted, 

John H. Pomeroy, 
Director of Research 



THE END 



40 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




SPECIAL JOBBERY 

BY H. B. FYFE 



The Bureau of Slick Tricks had strange problems handed 
them as routine assignments. The problem this time was — 
Was the problem an engineering, or a political difficulty? 

Illustrated by Cartier 



Mr. John Waterfield reached the 
limit of edible nail on his left small 
finger and moodily switched to the 
other hand. His watery eyes stared 
vacantly at the three-dimensional 
stellar map of colored plastic on the 
opposite wall of the anteroom. 

The average man, privileged to 
examine this diagram, would have 
glowed with complacence. It em- 
phasized Terra’s crossroad position 
on the trade curves between stars of 
the Edge and the mighty civiliza- 
tions fanning out from the Center of 
the galaxy. Waterfield, however, 
had a personal problem. 

Should he expect this J. Gilbert 
Fuller, who had summoned him to 
the Bureau of Special Trading, to 
address him as “Mr. Waterfield”? 
Or “Professor Waterfield”? Or 
would this fat-headed bureaucrat 

SPECIAL JOBBERY 



look down his nose and brusequely 
call him “Waterfield”? 

“Will you please come in now, 
Mr. Waterfield ?” 

He leaped hastily to his feet, then 
scowled as he realized that the voice 
came from an address system. He 
stood up very straight, with his 
somewhat receding chin held high, 
but his hundred and twenty pounds 
hardly dented the springy floor 
covering. 

Before going to the door. Water- 
field glanced about the austerely 
furnished room for some sort of 
mirror. Finding none, he smoothed 
back his sparse, sandy-gray hair and 
tugged at the cheap red neck scarf. 
It still failed to brighten the rum- 
pled brown of his jacket and slacks. 
He opened the door, planning to sit 
partly sideways, so that the fellow 

41 




might overlook his having one blue 
and one brown eye. 

The man who rose behind the 
shiny desk was tastefully clad in a 
quiet shade of crimson. Waterfield’s 
gaze was immediately captured by 
the wavy golden hair. Like many 
before him, he added this to the arti- 
ficiality of the neat mustache and 
lamplight tan, and so underestimated 
the bright blue eyes. 

“Won’t you sit down, Mr. Water- 
field? Very glad you could find the 
time.” 

The voice was a mellow, relaxing 
baritone. Waterfield caught him- 
self just before explaining that it 
was his off shift from the change 
booth at the helicopter station. 

“Yeah,” he said simply. 

Fuller blinked, but kept a bland 
expression as he sat down. When 
his sharp glance flickered over 
Waterfield’s features, the latter felt 
every freckle stand out on his sallow 
skin. 

He determined not to mind what 
the other thought. He simply had 
to make a new start. A job off Terra 
might do it! 

As Fuller made known over his 
desk visor his desire not to be in- 
terrupted, Waterfield tried to relax. 

What if the doctors had been right 
about his “severe maladjustment in- 
volving a persecution complex” ? He 
was all right now. But he supposed 
that he had argued over mismanage- 
ment so often that the word had 
been passed around. Waterfield: 
clever but troublemaker. Now he 
had a grip on his nerves again, but he 



wondered if he could retain it. Con- 
stantly being excluded from positions 
of importance was sapping his newly- 
learned ability to get along with 
people. What frightened him at 
times was his old tendency to lose 
his temper and blame everything on 
others. 

“I think you can help me in a 
certain matter,” said Fuller, leaning 
back easily. “I heard your name 
through Dr. Coulton— ” 

So that was it! Now, thought 
Waterfield, he’s wondering how I 
can have the I. Q. that Coulton 
tested and look like this. 

“Yeah ?” he said defiantly. 

“Yeah . . . er . . . yes,” Fuller con- 
tinued. “Now, perhaps I should de- 
scribe the function of the Bureau of 
Special Trading—” 

“Never mind,” interrupted Water- 
field. “I’ve heard of it. ‘Bureau of 
Slick Tricks,’ they call you.” 

Well, perhaps the Bureau would 
not be too particular about past rec- 
ords. They were said to have all 
sorts of “odd” jobs, even away from 
Terra. All he needed was a chance 
to show what he could do, before he 
began to slip again ! 

The other had shrugged, gently 
regretful. 

“An undeserved, if widespread, 
witticism,” he deplored. “However, 
you can understand, then, the sort of 
problem I have to face. A certain 
outsystem spaceship has arrived on 
Luna from a federation toward the 
Center. They call themselves Chot- 



42 



ASTOUNDING SC I E N CE- FICTIO N 





zeks, and offer for sale a rather re- problem and the only tropical island 
markable mechanism.” known to have been permanently de- 

“Something really new?” jungled in recent decades.” 

‘‘Let us say the first practical ap- “Don’t buy them !” said Water- 
plication of a dream. The trouble field, rising to leave, 
is that we are not convinced that it “Oh, really !” murmured Fuller, 
is . . . ah . . . practical for Terra. “The Bureau intends further investi- 
T/i^y made one work on Luna, but— ” gation to be very cautious— and re- 
“Don’t you have somebody to munerative. We want someone who 
make a decision?” demanded his might have the deductive powers to 
visitor. solve the trouble without being blink- 

Fuller ignored the rudeness. ered by standard engineering habits. 

“We had,” he said. “Several ex- For all we know, it may be a bag of 
perts, in fact. But inevitably, under vacuum.” 
their examination, the machines . . , Waterfield sat down, 

lit up ! I seem to have inherited the After the accidents, Fuller ex- 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



43 




plained, the Chotzeks dealing with 
the Bureau had sent the machines 
remaining to the Luna freight base 
assigned their ship. They now as- 
sured the Terrans that everything 
had been checked and was in good 
order. A shipment of six units had 
been returned to Terra for retrial. 

“What do they do?” asked Water- 
field. 

“It is claimed,” said Fuller care- 
fully, “that by a method of sub- 
atomic transformation which they 
Recline to reveal, their invention will 
generate a form of radiation which 
energizes plant growth.” 

“Try fertilizer,” suggested Water- 
field. 

“This process is supposedly su- 
perior in that it will nourish plant 
life even on bare rock. Considering 
the inadequacy of Terran agricul- 
ture, the mounting population, and 
the extremely high cost of spaceship- 
ping food, we are compelled to be 
interested in any such dream.” 

“What has all this to do with 
me ?” 

“The Chotzeks agreed to let us 
try out their generators, as I said, 
but their agents claim they are sus- 
picious. If we pry too far into the 
construction, they may decide to by- 
pass Terra and deal with planetary 
systems nearer the Edge.” 

Waterfield required no elabora- 
tion. That sector of the galaxy was 
Terra’s economic empire, and no out- 
system bargain peddlers were 
wanted. 

“Now,” suggested Fuller, “if we 



were to present to them as our 
checker a perfectly average indi- 
vidual-r-” 

“If you’re calling me a moron,” 
Waterfield rapped out angrily, “I can 
assure you I’m far from average !” 

“I know, I know. You have four 
college degrees, despite your attitude 
and appearance. The last, frankly, 
is the most valuable to us. You 
were, briefly, a professor of inter- 
stellar civilization, and wrote a fine 
book on the subject. Also, briefly: 
research chemist, rocket mechanic, a 
city manager on Luna, and so on. 
Now working in a change booth on a 
helicopter route. Too bad you could 
never be patient instead of making 
trouble.” 

The little man bounced to his feet, 
kicking over a chair. 

“You sneaking snoop!” he yelled. 
“So that’s how you spend your time. 
Spying I W ell, let me tell you, I have 
twice the l^rains and ability of your 
whole gang.” 

“Very probably,” said Fuller 
agreeably. “I am offering you an 
opportunity to use them.” 

Waterfield sneered, with the en- 
raging effectiveness of constant 
practice. 

“Nobody offers me real opportuni- 
ties. You’ll be as jealous as the rest. 
Why not? I never saw a business 
yet that I couldn’t run better than 
the dopes at the head of it. That 
they can’t stand. Why, I even had 
to fake stupidity to get my present 
job!” 

He stood, trembling with anger, in 
the middle of the floor, with his thin 



44 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




hair ruffled into a sort of halo. Fuller 
had not moved, waiting for the out- 
burst to spend itself. Waterfield was 
further goaded by the realization 
that his own mismated eyes were 
brimming with uncontrollable tears 
of temper. 

“Now, now,” soothed Fuller, “let 
us face things. I have spoken with 
some of the psychiatrists you have 
consulted, so I know you are too in- 
telligent to believe that.” 

“Who? Coulton? Khodoff?” 

“Among others. The latter gen- 
tleman was quite bitter. Your little 
mental pranks while he thought he 
was collecting data caused him to 
take an extended vacation—” 

For a second. Fuller’s features 
suggested the bland interest of a cat 
in the arrival of a new canary. 

“It is obvious,” he continued, 
“that you are unable to co-operate 
with any human being to the least 
degree ; but you are clever enough to 
defeat all attempts to repair your 
personality— even those you yourself 
request.” 

He leaned back in his chair, smil- 
ing pleasantly. 

“The Bureau, however, is one of 
the most co-operative organizations 
Terra has ever seen. We will co- 
operate with you.” 

Waterfield reached up absently 
and smoothed down his sandy-gray 
hair. 

“We will turn over the generators 
to you, place a new island at your 
disposal,” pursued Fuller. “You 
will report only to me and your de- 
cisions will not be questioned. You 



are capable of analyzing the trouble 
if anyone can, and if you do, you 
will find that the Bureau pays well. 
You can almost load your own 
tanks.” 

“What do you want to find out?” 
asked Waterfield, wavering. 

“Terra has many technical colo- 
nies on completely barren planets. 
Spaceshipping food is prohibitively 
expensive. Shipping or refining ma- 
terials for hydroponic installations is 
also no joke. We want to know if 
we can possibly use this invention ; 
or, if we can not, whether it is too 
dangerous to stand distribution in 
our volume of space.” 

“And I can load my own tanks?” 
mused Waterfield. 

“Well . . . we decline to commit 
any murders for you, but anything 
else that is in our power—” 

Waterfield sank into his chair once 
again. He nodded thoughtfully. 
Taking this for a gesture of assent. 
Fuller began to brief him on the peo- 
ple he was about to meet ; but the 
little man was inattentive. He knew 
that he could recall the conversation 
without listening consciously now. 
For the moment, he wanted to re- 
hearse suitable dialogue for inform- 
ing that toad, Parker, that he was 
quitting the change booth. 

That evening, Waterfield followed 
J. Gilbert Fuller up a gracefully 
curving ramp into the hotel the 
B. S. T. maintained in the city for 
the outsystem visitors it had cause to 
entertain. Inside, Fuller excused 
himself to speak with the manager. 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



45 




Waterfield saw the latter stare un- 
believingly at him across the lobby, 
look again at something in Fuller’s 
hand, and shrug resignedly. Fuller 
returned. 

“There will be a suite for you in 
the oxygen wing whenever you fly 
back to report,” he said. “You have 
that identocard I had you thumbprint 
at the office?” 

Waterfield felt in his pocket and 
nodded. 

“Keep it handy. Just show it any- 
where, and they will send the bill to 
the B. S. T.” 

“Any amount?” asked Waterfield 
suspiciously. 

“Certainly. If you need any rou- 
tine work done— wire-tapping or 
shadowing, which I doubt— just in- 
quire of the manager. He is the 
Bureau officer in charge.” 

The manager had not looked very 
important to Waterfield. Nor very 
bright, either. He started to make a 
surly comment to that effect, but re- 
membered his own circumstances. 
His face might yet be his fortune 
with the B. S. T. 

“I expect one of the Chotzeks per- 
sonally,” explained Fuller, leading 
the way to a conference room. “Un- 
til now, I have spoken only with 
their Terran agents.” 

“1 thought the Bureau of Slick 
Tricks had complete control over all 
special trading,” remarked Water- 
field maliciously. 

“Unfortunately,” admitted Fuller, 
“they first contacted a crew of Ter- 
rans several parsecs out. A pair of 
those boys have welded themselves 

46 



tight, and we have to deal through 
them. The Bureau has not even 
found me a translator yet.” 

They found the Chotzek waiting 
for them, accompanied by two Ter- 
rans. Fuller introduced the latter as 
Ferris and Taylor. They did not in- 
troduce the Chotzek. Waterfield 
thought that the first might better 
have been called “ferret.” Taylor 
was taller, blonder, and looked just 
as hard. Despite their tough confi- 
dence, however, they accorded Fuller 
a wary politeness. 

One pirate knew another. Water- 
field supposed, no matter what flag 
was flown. For himself, he took an 
immediate dislike to both strangers, 
and turned his attention to the out- 
system trader. 

The latter was unimpressive. 
Smooth, deep-pink skin covered 
cylindrical body which, Waterfield 
thought, would fit neatly into a three- 
foot trash can. Multitudes of hairs, 
tendrils, and tentacles sprouted in 
seeming confusion from the top, 
while the body stood about six inches 
off the floor on half a dozen stubby 
feet. 

The tendrils, he reasoned, must 
contain sensory equipment, for he 
could see no other features. Per- 
haps the coarse hairs contained simi- 
lar organs, repeated with various 
ranges of sensitivity. If so, the 
Chotzek must be capable of marvel- 
ously accurate perception. It seemed 
to Waterfield that, somewhere dur- 
ing his traveling study of stellar 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




civilizations, he had encountered 
such arrangements. 

The Chotzek wore a sturdy harn- 
ess attached to a two-wheeled tank. 
A flexible tube leading from this and 
disappearing beneath the “head” 
growth indicated that he was not at 
home in Terran air. 

Waterfield realized that Fuller had 
been talking about him. 

“. . . of course not. Perfectly av- 
erage individual, as agreed, although 
he did have some courses at an agri- 
cultural college.” 

Ferris and Taylor looked at 
Waterfield clinically. The former 
translated to the Chotzek by a series 
of grunts. 

“Our only interest,” Fuller as- 
sured them, “is in seeing that your 
generators can be operated by Ter- 
ran workers of average intelli- 
gence—” 

Why, he’s as much as calling me a 
dummy, thought Waterfield resent- 
fully, but realized he had better act 
the part. 

Ferris “spoke” with the Chotzek. 

“He says,” he reported to Fuller, 
“he hopes there won’t be any more 
complaints about the generators. We 
had a little trouble convincin’ him 
an’ his friends that anythin’ was evet 
outa order.” 

“They know about the explo- 
sions,” reminded Fuller. 

“Yeah, but they say the machines 
musta been handled wrong.” 

“Are they infallible ?” inquired the 
B. S. T. man. 

“Huh!” grunted Taylor. “They 
think so.” 



“The point is,” said Ferris, “they 
kinda have a good opinion o’ their- 
selves. They got the idea they can 
always sell their stuff some place 
else.” 

“Ask him if he is quite certain that 
the operating instructions were cor- 
rect,” requested Fuller. 

The Chotzek’s answer, when 
translated, was to the effect that the 
instructions had included all the in- 
formation necessary to anyone who 
had any business using them. 
Waterfield suspected that Ferris had, 
in fact, diplomatically censored the 
statement. Glancing at Fuller, he 
judged that the other held the same 
suspicion. 

That warmed him up like a nova, 
he thought. He’s good, though; 
hardly shows if you don’t notice his 
neck getting red. 

He supposed that Fuller was justi- 
fied. After all, who did this little 
lump think he was? Or was his ar- 
rogance designed to obscure the true 
mediocrity of his wares? 

He wondered whether the attitude 
originated with the Chotzek, or if the 
two intermediaries merely claimed 
so for their own purposes. 

He was still considering this when 
the conference ended. The Terrans 
declined Fuller’s invitation to din- 
ner, and escorted their client and his 
little tank down the hall. 

“Too bad,” murmured Fuller re- 
gretfully. “Still I hardly thought 
they would be that naive. Shall we 
try the dining room?” 

Waterfield followed him, seeing 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



47 




visions of B. S. T. waiters and 
drugged entrees. They reached the 
oxygen wing dining room, where 
Fuller enjoyed a hearty meal. His 
companion, distracted 1)y the squashy 
sounds passing for conversation at a 
nearby table of Cagsans, was relieved 
when Fuller began to describe the 
scene of his future operations, over 
the coffee. 

A few days later, Waterfield stood 
on that same scene and watched the 
big B. S. T. jet disappear in the sky. 
Fuller had had most of the equip- 
ment flown in previously, but had 
taken the time to see Waterfield 
safely on the island. 

This was an uninhabited speck in 
the tropics, consisting mainly of an 
old, second-rate volcano, narrow 
beaches, and a few miles of jungle. 

When he was at last in sole posses- 
sion of all he could see, Waterfield 
made another, more leisurely inspec- 
tion of his domain. Several prefabri- 
cated sheds had been hastily erected. 
In there were the Chotzek radiation 
generators, six of them. In another 
was a small shop with a. few tools, 
batteries, and electrical parts. The 
smallest of all, Waterfield noted with 
a scowl, was for him. There were 
a television set for entertainment, 
one for calling’the B. S.. T. on the 
mainland, one chair, one cot, and 
about one square foot of empty floor. 

He took a look at one of the gen- 
erators, and found it a combination 
of Chotzek technology and Terran 
transportation. He hoped it was 
bolted securely to the platform of the 
thirty-foot truck. The latter ran on 

48 



tracks ; which was fitting since the 
generator had the massive, bulky 
curves usually associated with deep- 
space vessels, approach-control pill- 
boxes at Lunar landing fields, or 
other heavy construction. 

“Those open calis will be fine when 
it rains,” he snorted. 

Tomorrow, he decided, he would 
spread three or four around the 
island and see what he could get out 
of the heavy lenses that pointed to 
the assortment of reflectors mounted 
on top. He had a printed set of in- 
structions, translated into Terran, 
but he expected to spend most of his 
time with a book of chess problems. 
There should be a way to rig up a 
remote control system. 

It was six days later when Water- 
field stood again near the little clus- 
ter of .sheds, watching a B. S. T. jet 
sweep over the shallow bay. Two 
big freighters flew behind it. 

A few minute.s later, he met Fuller 
as the other strode up the beach. The 
B. S. T. man, already beginning to 
perspire in the sun, jerked his head 
toward Waterfield’s hut. The jet 
crews apparently had orders to keep 
out of the way. 

“Now!” said Fuller as they en- 
tered the cool dimness of the hut, 
“you can explain to me what made 
it necessary to call for me in such 
language !” 

“Well,” mumbled Waterfield, re- 
membering he had been somewhat 
excited, “I was a little disappointed 
at not getting you personally.” 

“My secretary refused to quote 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




you verbatim.” Fuller wiped his 
face with a handkerchief without 
rumpling his mustache. He sank 
into the only chair, leaving the bunk 
for Waterfield. “Until last night, I 
never knew her to be shocked by 
anything.” 

Waterfield wondered about an 
apology, but Fuller plunged abruptly 
into another matter. 

“What was that glow I saw from 
the air?” he demanded. “They 
swore to me the volcano has been 
dead in the memory of man.” 

“That was number four, at the 
other end of the island,” Waterfield 
confessed. 

Fuller’s ruddy features paled 
slightly as he considered that. 

“How the devil did you get 
away?” he asked. 

“Well ... as a matter of fact—” 

“Don’t tell me,” murmured Fuller, 
staring at the mess of radio equip- 
ment on the table. “I thought you 
would be too clever to work in the 
hot sun.” 

“A good thing, too !” flared Water- 
field, his face— save for the freckles— 
white with temper. 

“What do you mean?” 

“What do I mean?” shrilled the 
little man. “I might have gone up 
with it ! I might have been a little 
puff of vapor floating over the island 
by now !” 

“Yes, that would be awkward,” 
admitted Fuller. “I never would 
have known how it happened. As it 
was, you took data, of course?” 
“Why . . . I-” 

Fuller clucked his tongue sadly. 



“Well, then,” suggested Fuller, 
“suppose you tell me what system 
you followed. Perhaps we can make 
deductions.” 

Waterfield gave up the feeling that 
something demanding an answer had 
slipped by, and began to outline his 
distribution of the generators. 

“One was working fairly well, 
growing a nice patch of corn on bare 
rock. I treated the beans with num- 
ber two but I think it’s on too high— 
it’s patrolling along the edge of the 
jungle and producing all sorts of 
mutations.” 

“How many are you using?” 

“Four, to start with. I . . . er . . . 
lost number three in the jungle.” 

Fidler pressed his lips tightly to- 
gether but said nothing. 

“Well, it can go over anything 
with those tracks,” said Waterfield 
defensively. “I figured out what 
was going on without needing to go 
after it.” 

“And the last one?” asked Fuller. 

“Oh. That one I tried to adjust.” 

“Adjust?” 

“I thought it might be a good 
thing if we could use them to clear 
out unwanted growths.” 

There was a moment of silence, 
marred only by the slight creaking 
of Fuller’s boot as he twisted his 
foot this way and that in a painstak- 
ing inspection of the shiny leather. 

“I couldn’t help it,” complained 
Waterfield. 

“No,” said Fuller. 

“I only changed the settings very 
little.” 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



49 




“You certainly cleared the under- 
growth.” 

“You probably think I wasn’t 
scientific about it,” accused Water- 
field angrily. “You probably think 
I didn’t find out anything!” 

“You probably found how to ex- 
plode a generator,” decided Fuller 
judicially. “But, then ... we could 
do that before.” 

“But you didn’t know why. And 
did you grow any corn on bare 
lava ?” 

“No-o-o— or at least I had no re- 
ports. Could you do it again, with 
another generator?” 

“No, I couldn’t. Nobody could!” 

Fuller rose to his feet. 

“Then suppose we get the others 
back to the base here, while we think 
things over.” 

“But, listen!” demanded Water- 
field, his eyes beginning to water 
with annoyance. 

The B. S. T. man, however, had 
already stepped out into the harsh 
sunlight. 

“Listen to me !” squawked the lit- 
tle man, trotting after him. “Listen, 
I know—” 

“Just a minute,” called Fuller over 
his shoulder. “I want to have the 
freighters moved up here.” 

He hurried down the beach, leav- 
ing his experimenter jigging with re- 
pressed anger. 

“All right!” muttered Waterfield, 
nearly blind with frustration. “All 
right ! . I thought you were brighter 
than most, but no! You just brush 
your mustache neater. Well, if I 
have to bring those contraptions 

SO 



back, you’ll go along, too ! We’ll see 
how much I found out— fj we both get 
back.” 

Fuller returned in a few minutes, 
rubbing his hands briskly. 

“I have decided to move out,” he 
announced. “The freighters will be 
here to load the generators when 
you bring them in.” 

“Then you might as well see for 
yourself how they’ve been working.” 
A note of truculence crept into the 
little man’s tone. “Maybe you could 
get some idea of what could possibly 
go wrong.” 

The sarcasm cast a tiny shadow of 
tenseness over the blazing sand. 
Fuller’s hard blue stare locked with 
Waterfield’s embittered glance. The 
challenge was plainer than if 
spoken. 

After a moment, the B. S. T. man 
sJ)oke in a quiet voice. 

“I seldom indulge in a mistake, but 
I shall make an exception— just for 
you.” 

Waterfield rushed into his hut. He 
emerged with an untidy assembly of 
fadio parts mounted on a piece of 
plywood and a large dry battery. 
The latter was circled crudely with a 
length of rope to serve as a handle. 
This he passed to Fuller, who ac- 
cepted the burden in sour silence. 

T 00 sore even to ask zuhy, thought 
Waterfield. Well, let him stretch a 
muscle for once I I’d like to see that 
polish melt. 

About twenty minutes later, when 
they reached the experimental area, 
the polish seemed to be holding well 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




enough. There may have been a 
small glister forming here or there, 
but if so, it was hidden from view. 

Waterfield had followed the beach 
until they came to the place where 
lava had once flowed into the sea. 
Here, he insisted upon heading up 
the jagged slope so that they could 
look down on generator number one. 
It seemed to be performing as prom- 
ised. On the otherwise bare, wind- 
swept lava was a patch of young corn 
about ten yards square. This ma- 
chine was stationary. 

“Are the plants normal?” asked 
Fuller. 

“I didn’t feel like sticking my 
head in there to see,” said Water- 
field. “Now, when we get around 
this bulge, you’ll see the next one.” 

They scrambled over a sloping 
ridge and stopped to rest. 

Number two clanked into view 
from the other end of the disappear- 
ing beach. The tracked vehicle lum- 
bered along a beaten trail through 
the insane variety of lush growth 
carpeting the flat space between jun- 
gle and breakers. When it reached a 
point below the two men, it halted, 
pivoted ponderously, and started 
back. 

“Does that grow right to the 
water’s edge?” inquired Fuller. 

“I think some of it starts under- 
water now%” Waterfield' told him. 
“The ‘beach’ seems wider than it 
used to and those waves don’t smash 
in the way they did.” 

“All in a week?” 

“Yes.” 

“You must have something mal- 



adjusted,” declared Fuller. “No 
wonder. How could you be accurate 
with that radio gadget?” 

Waterfield’s freckles slowly be- 
came prominent. 

“I made manual adjustments on 
number four,” he grated. “I was 
just lucky. When I saw all the dials 
creeping the same w'ay no matter 
what I did, I ran for the mountain. 
Just got around the bend, too.” 

Fuller seemed somewFat mollified. 

“Well,” he suggested finally, “sup- 
pose you show me how' you handle 
that one running along the beach.” 

Waterfield relieved Fuller of the 
heavy battery. He connected a cable 
betw'een that and his assembly, fid- 
dled wdth some knobs, watched the 
moving machine below, and fiddled 
some more. 

The generator reached the end of 
its beat as Waterfield worked. It 
turned in its clumsy fashion, but 
stopped instead of lumbering away. 
He jockeyed it over a few yards into 
a new path and looked to Fuller for 
instructions. 

“How about changing the radia- 
tion ?” asked his companion. 

Waterfield’s sneer was as expres- 
sive as ever. 

“Sure you want me to try ?” 

Fuller stared at him analytically. 
“Make just a small change,” he sug- 
gested. 

“I’d rather do that manually,” said 
Waterfield. 

They left the equipment there and 
walked down the slope. Reaching 
the generator, Waterfield led the way 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



51 




up a ladder on the end of the Terran- 
built undercarriage. 

The Chotzek apparatus was con- 
structed with a thick shield protect- 
ing the control board, at the end near 
the cab of the truck. Waterfield was 
aware, as he disconnected his wiring, 
that Fuller took care not to stand 
near the edge of this. 

“It’s all right,” said the little man. 
“I found out those reflectors have 
safety guides. They can’t point this 
way. Probably can’t focus this close 
anyway.” 

“Who would want it focused?” 
murmured Fuller, as he bent to ex- 
amine the Chotzek controls over 
Waterfield’s shoulder. “Those mul- 
tiple switches must be clumsy.” 



“I could manage those,” Water- 
field said, forgetting his annoyance 
temporarily. “What burns me is the 
way they design indicator dials. That 
big one has such a fine scale that I 
can’t see exactly which line the ar- 
row points to.” 

“Neither can I,” admitted Fuller. 
“And these others— are they cali- 
brated in colors?” 

“That’s right. I’m not color- 
blind, but those hues shade so 
smoothly from one to another that 
I don’t know what they’re telling me 
half the time.” 

Fie moved a handle cautiously. 
Nothing startling happened ; some of 
the indicators moved lazily. 

“Gave it a little more power,” he 




52 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION* 



muttered. “Supposed to match it on 
this dial, but I can’t tell the differ- 
ence. When I tried this on number 
four, it burnt all the plants around. I 
tried to give this less.” 

They watched the creeping indi- 
cators, and Waterfield craned his 
neck to see if he had inadvertently 
set any of the reflectors in motion. 
He felt himself plucked by the sleeve. 

“I dislike to appear unduly timid,” 
said Fuller, “but are you sure you 
did the right thing?” 

Waterfield glanced at the B. S. T. 
representative and followed the 
other’s stare to the lush vegetation 
upon which the reflectors focused. 
The plants seemed to be steaming. 

He grabbed Fuller by the arm and 
shoved him off the edge of the plat- 
form. Waterfield was onh? an in- 
stant behind him, and landed run- 
ning. As he reached the first of the 
lava after thrashing and floundering 
through the undergrowth partially 
flattened by his maneuvering of the 
truck, it occurred to him that he 
should have told Fuller to come 
along. About fifty feet up the slope, 
he reasoned that the other had 
reached his position of authority only 
because of keen wits and hair-trigger 
initiative. 

A few moments later, they threw 
themselves down to rest after round- 
ing the sloping spur of lava. Water- 
field nursed a scraped knee, cursed 
at the flapping hole in his slacks, and 
wondered if he would get an infec* 
tion. Fuller smoothed his ruffled 



mustache and stared at the little man 
accusingly. 

“Nothing happened,” he com- 
plained. 

Waterfield panted at him. 

“Of course,” admitted Fuller, “I 
believe firmly in taking precautions. 
In my business, it means so much.” 

They rested a few minutes. Finally 
Waterfield stirred. 

“I s’pose we might take a look,” 
he said. “Anything bad should have 
happened by now.” 

“One thing I shall have to do,” 
mused Fuller, “is to censor some 
films before I turn in my report. I 
ordered the boys in my small jet to 
go up and take telephoto pictures of 
the layout. I hope they missed our 
little sprint.” 

As they looked up to search the 
sk}f for the jet. Fuller’s voice faded 
out beneath the impact of a tre- 
mendous roar. The explosion 
reached around the curve of the hill 
to stagger them with an almost solid 
blast of air. Wateffield, who hap- 
pened to he facing the sea, saw a 
blaze of light reflected from the 
waves, to be replaced by an omi- 
nous, ruddy coruscation. 

The two men stared at each other, 
their sense of time paralyzed for an 
interval. Finally, Fuller reached 
down for his share of the remote 
control equipment. 

“I believe I have the main orbit 
now,” he said. “We might as well 
go, I think—” 

Later, back at the base. Fuller dis- 
cussed the matter with Waterfield. 



SPECIAL jobbery 



S3 




His air crew, although they claimed 
to have caught the explosion from 
high altitude, had been sent to try 
for another shot of the still burning 
area. 

The agent sat crosslegged on the 
sand of the beach, doodling on a 
page from his notebook while his 
men passed back and forth in their 
work of evacuating the experimental 
station. Waterfield noticed that 
many glanced curiously at Fuller. 
He suspected that few had ever seen 
their chief slicker so forgetful of ap- 
pearances as to sit with his jacket 
unbelted and his neck scarf tied 
around his head as a sweatband. 

“There were two generators never 
in action,” mu.sed Fuller. “They are 
being shipped now. That leaves on 
Terra only your number one, and 
model that went native. Correct?” 

“As far as I know,” Waterfield 
shrugged. 

Fuller rose, jamming the notebook 
into his pocket. 

“Bring that gadget of yours when 
we take of¥,” he ordered. “I pre- 
sume you can scramble the dials 
enough to be sure of igniting num- 
ber one?” 

Waterfield gaped, but nodded. Be- 
fore he grasped the intention, the 
small jet had returned and the others 
were loaded. 

All took off. The two freighters 
were sent sweeping back over the 
island to take pictures while Fuller 
and Waterfield worked with the lat- 
ter’s homemade apparatus. 

It did not take much. The gen- 
erator flared briefly at the center of 

54 



an expanding, transparent motion 
down on the island, and disappeared 
beneath a rising billow of smoke. 
Their jet swung away, leaving the 
others to complete their picture tak- 
ing, and headed for the mainland. 

Waterfield kicked aside his equip- 
ment, and Fuller went forward to 
confer with the pilot. The little man 
sat down to enjoy the comfortable 
temperature within the jet. He had 
not realized he was so tired until he 
felt the comfort of the seat. Before 
long, he slept while the jet slashed 
through the stratosphere. 

One of the crew— or he might have 
been a special agent— awakened 
Waterfield after they had landed on 
the mainland. Mr. Fuller had left 
immediately, but had given orders 
that Mr. Waterfield could have sup- 
per if he wished. There would be a 
suite at the hotel for Mr. Waterfield, 
and Mr. Fuller would call there later. 
Also, there was an envelope ad- 
dressed to Mr. Waterfield. 

The little man opened the enve- 
lope, finding a neat packet of kilo- 
credit bills and a scrawled memo: 
“For incidental expenses.” 

After supper, an aircar was placed 
at his disposal and he was let off at 
the landing roof of the B. S. T. hotel. 
He descended to the main floor desk, 
rewarded a request for identification 
with a sneer, but was shown to a 
comfortable suite anyway. He sus- 
pected Fuller of having sent a warn- 
ing description ahead. 

’ By the time Waterfield had made 
himself thoroughly at home, the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




B. S. T. agent arrived with two well- 
groomed young accomplices. 

“I thought we could save time if I 
met my assistants here,” he ex- 
plained after hastily slurred intro- 
ductions. 

They gathered around the table, 
upon which Fuller spread photo- 
graphs apparently enlarged from 
movies made of the island. 

“Now, professor,” he requested, 
“can you pencil off the area most 
likely to contain the missing number 
three ?” 

Waterfield meditated and marked 
out a section of jungle. 

“All right, Lewis,” said Fuller. 
“You know as much about it now as 
the Bureau can tell you. Order 
whatever you need in the way of 
transportation, technicians, and lab 
equipment. Just see that you set it 
off and get pictures of the explosion 
—from as many angles as you can.” 

He turned to the other man. 
Waterfield listened to the instruc- 
tions, puzzled. Then he understood. 

All the Chotzek generators were 
to be reported blown up. There 
would be moving pictures to verify 
the accidents. There would be extra 
casualties to add to the earlier, fac- 
tual list. There would be some other 
trade arrangements with the Chot- 
zeks. 

“Even though they deserve noth- 
ing!” said Fuller indignantly. “At 
the very least, they took no con- 
sideration of our problems, but if 
they were trying to pass off some 
rejects on the Bureau—” 

“Who ?” asked Waterfield. 



“Well, I am not quite sure,” ad- 
mitted Fuller. “If it was done by 
the Chotzeks, those creeping cylin- 
ders may simply not care if we blow 
ourselves up.” 

“Ferris and Taylor? All we know 
comes through them.” 

“I have been considering them. In 
fact, they will find it extremely diffi- 
cult to leave Terra until the Bureau 
is satisfied.” 

The diplomatic message, however, 
would merely state that although the 
generators were useless to Terra, the 
Chotzeks would be highly esteemed 
as a trading link to the Center. 
When this had been copied down, the 
two young men bustled out, leaving 
Fuller and Waterfield with one other 
problem. 

“We know they have something,” 
the little man said. “We may even 
be able to build one when we know 
what it is. But how do you think 
you’re going to analyze the models 
you swiped?” * 

Fuller looked pained at the choice 
of such a word, and confessed that 
he had not had time to plan that. 

“Neither have I,” said Waterfield, 
“but I know why we’ll never operate 
those gadgets as they are, perfect or 
rejects as they may be. I had most 
of the picture on the island, but you 
wouldn’t listen.” 

Fuller had been busy with glasses 
and decanter. He passed a drink to 
Waterfield and sat down facing him. 

“Yes,” he admitted, “I am seldom 
that hast}q but I underestimated you, 
Waterfield. When we were running 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



55 




around that hill, you were an entirely 
different person than I had seen in 
my office. I never thought you had 
it in you.” 

Waterfield blinked, then coughed 
to cover up. Somehow, for the first 
time in years, he did not resent the’ 
omission ^of a title before his name. 
He even felt he might approve of the 
wild orange neck scarf Fuller was 
wearing with tonight’s black and sil- 
ver jacket. 

“I suppose,” he said, conscious of 
the B. S. T. agent’s scrutiny, “we 
were both too busy to consider each 
other as persons— or personalities, 
rather.” 

Fuller nodded, but Waterfield re- 
mained conscious of a driving curi- 
osity in the man. He began to feel 
annoyed. 

“It seems regrettable,” he added 
tartly. “I guess it was the chance 
of the year for me to see a human 
being act honestly.” 

Fuller smiled from the mustache 
down, but his eyes continued to 
probe. 

“You simply care very little for 
humans, do you?” he remarked. 
“Perhaps that is why you did such 
a fine book on contemporary stellar 
civilizations.” 

“Oh, you’ve been checking up 
again!” sneered Waterfield. 

“Some very respected men tell 
me,” said Fuller blandly, “that it is 
the definitive work on the subject. 
You may not have been overly suc- 
cessful as a professor, but your re- 
searches are being used to -good 
advantage.” 



“Naturally,” growled Waterfiel4, 
wishing he had been less gullible 
about the financial arrangements. 

“But to get back to the subject,” 
said Fuller, “how do you explain our 
failure?” 

Waterfield knew he was being 
lured by the opportunity to show off 
his cleverness, but took it anjwvay. 

“I remembered the looks of those 
Chotzeks, and thought they must 
have extremely sensitive organs of 
vision and touch, among others. 
Probably their depth perception is 
fantastic compared to ours.” 

“So?” 

“When I tried to use their control 
boards, I decided I might as well be 
blind. I imagine they could practi- 
cally name the wave length of any 
hue they looked at. As a result, 
running those generators is just too 
delicate a job for human senses.” 
“We shall have to build instru- 
ments, you mean.” 

“How?” snorted Waterfield. “You 
told me you had other technicians 
w'ork on this. Got any reports?” 
Fuller grimaced and refilled their 
glasses. “You managed to pick up 
tw'o pieces of equipment, but how is 
any human being going to find out 
anything about them— except the ig- 
nition point?” 

“They are touchy,” said Fuller 
gloomily, “but there must be some 
way. If I call back the Chotzeks, I 
shudder to think of the price they 
will demand when they see they have 
me across the jets.” 

“It wouldn’t look too good,” ad- 
mitted Waterfield. 



S6 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Fuller thought for a moment, then 
went to the wall visor and ordered a 
call put through to Ferris. 

“No harm in seeing what their at- 
titude is,” he remarked. 

They had to wait only a few min- 
utes, during which Fuller paced 
about the room, until the call was 
completed. Waterfield answered, to 
be confronted by the lean, wmrried 
features of Ferris. 

“Fuller there?” the latter asked. 
At Waterfield’s affirmative nod, he 
continued: “Tell him they’re gone!” 

“Gone where?” asked Waterfield, 
puzzled. 

“What’s that?” demanded Ftdler, 
striding rapidly across the room to 
the visor. 

“Some bright young comet from 
the B. S. T. came over a little while 
ago,” said Ferris. “All the Chot- 
zeks are back on Luna— don’t like our 
gravity— so like a pair o’ dummies, 
me an’ Taylor pass the story on to 
’em by long distance.” 

“Well?” prodded Fuller. 

“They pulled out,” said Ferris. 

“Without any answer?” demanded 
the B. S. T. man. 

“Not exactly,” admitted Ferris, 
his black eyes shifting uncomfort- 
ably. “They said they were tired of 
footin’ around with . . . er . . . people 
so far behind them. If we couldn’t 
handle their machines, they won’t 
bother with us. They say there’s al- 
ways somebody willin’ to buy Chot- 
zek stuff.” 

“Well, we are,” protested Fuller. 



“We merely want to make sure their 
product is reliable.” 

“That ain’t the point,” Ferris 
said. “Taylor tried to tell ’em some- 
thin’ like that. They just said they 
didn’t owe us for the blow-ups, ’cause 
we shouldn’t have been tryin’ some- 
thin’ too big for us in the first 
place.” 

“Is that all ? What about the trade 
agreement ?” 

“They said Chotzeks don’t need 
one. They were blastin’ off right 
aw'ay anyhow.” 

“But how can we reach them ?” de- 
manded Fuller. 

“Said they might send another 
ship in about fifty years. Right 
now—” 

“W ell ? What did they say ?” 

“They . . . uh . . . said it’s against 
their principles to waste time with 
the . . . uh . . . lower forms. They 
seemed kinda sore at me an’ Taylor 
for not tellin’ them right in the be- 
ginnin’ that we were stupid or some- 
thin’.” 

In the screen, his face darkened 
visibly at the memory. In the hotel 
room. Fuller flushed even more 
alarmingly. 

“It’s against WHAT?’! fie bel- 
lowed. “WHO DO THEY . 
who do they think they are?” 

By the time he had controlled 
himself, he was speaking to a dead 
screen. Ferris, after one alarmed 
look, had switched off. 

Fuller pounded on the operator’s 
signal button, the veins swelling in 
his neck. Then he thought better of 
it and turned the visor off. He 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



57 




tugged at his mustache and began to 
pace the room. 

“No use sending a patrol after 
them?” asked Waterfield, guessing 
the other’s original impulse. 

Fuller threw himself into a chair 
and poured a drink. 

“Not that I can see,” he admitted 
bitterly. “If we had only handled 
them differently! I’d like to toast 
those two apes in Sol for not telling 
me what we had to deal with !” 

He emptied his glass without ap- 
parent enjoyment. 

“I do not mind their policy of 
ca7Jeat emptor,” he said. “The Bu- 
reau expects that. I have no more 
affection for the Chotzeks than they 
for me. But the arrogant indiffer- 
ence of them ! If we blow ourselves 
up, it is our fault for not knowing 
better !” 

“Anyhow, that about finishes the 
deal,” said Waterfield. 

Fuller groaned. 

“The Bureau will probably station 
me so far out that I shall need a 
hundred-incher to see Sol. How did 
you deduce the Chotzek senses, by 
the way?” 

“Just by looking at them,” said 
Waterfield lamely. “I have traveled, 
you know, and made observations. I 
never saw anything exactly like 
them, but I have encountered the 
general design somewhere in the 
Terran sector—” 

Fuller shouted. He leaped out of 
his chair, knocking his glass to the 
floor, and grabbed Waterfield by the 
shoulder. 

“Where?” he demanded. 



Waterfield looked up at the sud- 
denly sparkling blue eyes and the 
bristling mustache. He tried to 
think. 

Fuller released his arm and strode 
impatiently to the wall visor. The 
other heard him calling his own office 
and ordering a copy of Professor 
John Waterfield’s “Stellar Civiliza- 
tions” to be brought to him at the 
hotel immediately— all eight volumes ! 

“You keep thinking,” he told 
Waterfield. “I am going down to 
interview the clerks.” 

He left the room like a meteor, 
and his companion ran agitated 
hands through his rumpled hair as 
he tried to concentrate. 

An hour later. Fuller returned. 
There was a long list in his hand and 
a hard look in his eye. Waterfield 
suspected that an increased efficiency 
would appear for a time on the staff. 
He put down the book he had been 
reading, and removed his feet from 
the other chair. 

“What is that?” asked Fuller 
curtly. 

“A messenger brought these,” said 
Waterfield, indicating the volumes 
stacked at his feet. “I’ve been re- 
reading my chapter on the Fegash- 
ites. I can’t find anything wrong 
wdth it, even today.” 

Fuller controlled himself rather 
obviously. He said that he supposed 
not, and w'aited. 

“Fortunately, I made an excellent 
index,” said Waterfield. “Peoples 
we want, I think, are Aambors, or 
Dronari, or maybe even Ronuils.” 



58 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Fuller looked down his list, ex- 
plaining that he had squeezed from 
the clerks downstairs an account of 
the _more unusual visitors at the 
hotel. 

“We are in luck,” he announced. 
“We have a Dronar and a whole 
group of Ronuils.” 

“Where does that leave us?” 

“The next thing,” said Fuller, 
marking his list carefully, “is to con- 
sult my files. If either of these can 
handle our problem, I want to know 
what they want, what they owe us, 
and what they cannot possibly do 
without.” 

“I see what you mean,” said 
Waterfield. 

“No need for you to bother,” said 
Fuller, although the other had 
shown no signs of accompanying 
him to the door. “You stay here 
and get a night’s rest. I may need 
you in the morning.” 

“In any case,” said Waterfield 
wistfully, “I . . . uh . . . would be 
interested—” 

Fuller looked back and hesitated. 
Then he grinned understandingly, 
and for the first time Waterfield saw 
the smile reach his ej'es. 

“Of course,” he said, and went out. 

Waterfield picked up his book and 
leaned back. Even after several 
years, he thought, it made good 
reading. 

i The next morning he was having 
breakfast with an Altairan when 
Fuller’s message reached him. The 
little octoped, who had left his mo- 
bile carriage to sit on the table across 



from Waterfield, signaled his regret 
at terminating the conversation. The 
Terran replied as best he could with 
only two hand's, and left the table 
hungry. 

Arriving at the Bureau, he found 
his employer discussing business 
with two non-Terrans. Waterfield 
took in the elongated, scaly bodies, 
the knotty muscles of each one’s four 
multiple-jointed legs, and the cor- 
responding two pairs of tentacles. 
These were surely from Ronuil IV. 

Fuller introduced them by the 
names of Ulral and Vahreem. 
Waterfield found the scrutiny of the 
four eyes placed arotmd the narrow 
heads less unpleasant than he might 
have expected. There were compli- 
cated sets of antennae to match the 
eyes, each organ splitting and re- 
splitting until they almost gave the 
effect of hair. His glance fell to the 
digital extremities, and he saw that 
the same principle was followed. 
What delicate oj^erations these be- 
ings must be able to perform ! 

Fuller, he realized, was express- 
ing his opinion of the departed Chot- 
zeks. When he ended with a de- 
nunciation of the aliens’ indifference 
to the dangers incurred by unwarned 
Terrans, Waterfield thought that the 
visitors seemed unimpressed. 

‘You seem to think we were 
foofs,” he accused Vahreem. 

“I did not say that,” answered 
the Ronuil politely. 

His voice, as used in imitating 
Terran speech, was a fuzzy, whis- 
pering monotone. Waterfield 
thought that it fitted the Ronuil’s 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



59 




general air of quiet, determined pa- 
tience. 

“Well, would you ?” the little man 
persisted. 

The Ronuil denied any such in- 
tention. 

“You mean, not to my face,” 
grumbled Waterfield. 

“Not to any part of you,” declared 
Vahreem precisely. “I would not 
have said it at all. Every Ronuil 
would realize it. Why should I tell 
any one else at all?” 

Under Fuller’s questioning, he 
admitted that the Chotzek point of 
view was not entirely alien to the 
Ronuils. Until the latter race had 
shrunk in numbers, it had been their 
custom to regard, the individual as 
insignificant. 

“We no longer believe so,” he said 
carefully, “but it is easy to under- 
stand how your friends do. It is 
from a physical confidence. Small 
need for others; small feeling for 
them.” 

“The opposite is to be under- 
stood,” offered Ulral, “in a race like 
yours, with its greater talent for 
communications between individuals, 
in place of normal sensory ability to 
analyze the surroundings.” 

Waterfield wondered what could 
be called normal. 

First the Chotzeks called us mor- 
ons, he thought, and now you! Well, 
we’ve come a long way on what we 
have I 

After polite farewells, the Ronuils 
took their leave. 

“It looks very encouraging,” said 
Fuller when they were alone. “They 



do have the sensory perceptions you 
predicted.” 

“What did they say when you de- 
scribed the generators?” 

Fuller explained that the Ronuils 
had known of no such invention, but 
did recognize the elements of the con- 
trol system. When they had amused 
themselves by standing across the 
room from Fuller’s desk, and cor- 
rectly calling lengths of a few milli- 
meters on his scale, he had begun to 
think that the Chotzeks might at 
first have been acting in good faith— 
from their peculiar viewpoint. They 
had probably not bothered to Inquire 
into the limitations of human senses. 

“Like selling an aircar to a blind 
man ?” 

“About that,” agreed Fuller. “If 
I had known that, and been able to 
deal directly with them before they 
found out too much, I might have 
talked them into installing some 
overload relays or whatever pro- 
tective system we need. Unfortu- 
nately, they would never think of 
any for themselves, and I had a 
pair of go-betweens confusing the 
scene.” 

“What can you do about them?” 
asked Waterfield curiously. 

A baleful light glowed momen- 
tarily in Fuller’s eyes. 

“I hired them,” he said. 

“You what?” 

“I engaged them on percentage for 
a delicate trade mission, being much 
impressed, I said, by their shrewd- 
ness.” 

“After they spoiled everything?” 



60 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 





“Yes,” said Fuller complacently, it up. And so on, until they buy 
“The Bureau had a cargo of gim- their way out of our service or are 
crack lenses they had to confiscate— squeezed dry.” 
would have burned in our atmos- Waterfield cleared his throat and 
phere, in fact. Ferris and Taylor changed the subject, 
are taking them out to a star I know “How about the Ronuils, then? 
of, called Kosor. I expect the Ko- As I remember, they’re a small race, 
sorians to clean them to a high and not too far from Sol.” 
polish.” Fuller confirmed this, adding that 

“What does that get you?” it would make them easy to. control. 

“A long hop will keep them out Another good point, he explained, 
of my orbit for some, time. I gave was that they would not spread all 
them a crew I trust, so they will over the galaxy when he increased 
surely be back to explain why they food to their barren planet, the only 
lost B. S. T. property. Then I shall one left of three they had once popu- 
give them a second chance, to make lated. That had been his bait. The 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



61 



Ronuils might have been extinct by 
now, but for subsidization by Terra. 

“That sums it up,” he finished. 
“The Bureau has loaded one of the 
few Ronuil ships on Luna at the mo- 
ment. They were quite willing to 
investigate' these generators for us— 
just what they would naturally be 
interested in. I am already plan- 
ning terms on which they may use 
part of what they build. I merely 
have to brief some B. S. T. men to 
supervise.” 

“What if the Chotzeks come 
back?” asked Waterfield. 

Fuller shrugged, his expression 
turning stubborn. 

“Until then, we might as well see 
if the Ronuils can build these gen- 
erators, or whether Terrans can do 
it safely. If we can, refusing us per- 
mission will do the Chotzeks no 
good.” 

“Maybe they won’t like parting 
with a manufacturing license. You 
said yourself they probably acted in 
good faith, from their viewpoint.” 

“So am I,” said Fuller sharply. 
“Except that I place my faith in 
Terra. And no ‘probably’ either.” 

There was no point in starting 
an argument, Waterfield reflected. 
Fuller was right. Humanity was 
still too small a fish in a huge sea 
to worry about other minnows. The 
Chotzeks should have been more 
considerate or more clever. 

“You said I could load my own 
tanks,” he reminded Fuller. 

The B. S. T. man never twitched 
an eyelid, but the atmosphere in the 

62 



office changed from congratulatory to 
commercial. 

“Of course,” he said pleasantly, 
“the job is not yet complete, but I 
think I can put through whatever 
you want.” 

“Well-” 

“Ask at least ten kilocredits. The 
Bureau can afford it.” 

“I had in mind,” said Waterfield 
nervously, “the appointment to su- 
pervise the research.” 

“You would have to leave for 
Ronuil tonight,” objected the sur- 
prised agent. “Do you want to spend 
anything from one to ten years where 
every individual looks like a crowd?” 
“I can stand it if I have some- 
thing to do.” 

Fuller meditated. 

“I do believe you are capable,” he 
murmured. “Also, you would have 
Ronuil senses to do the delicate in- 
vestigation ; and especially, there is 
no advantage in spreading the story 
over too many tongues.. Well, why 
not?” 

“I can leave now,” said Water- 
field, who had had a hard time keep- 
ing silent while Fuller convinced 
himself. 

“We are sending the rocket with 
the Ronuils and the two generators 
to Luna in about six hours.” 

“I’ll be there,” promised Water- 
field. 

Half an hour later, dizzy with ex- 
citement and B. S. T. briefing, he 
was returned to the hotel. The en- 
ergetic Fuller had immediately be- 
gun to arrange the red tape concern- 

ASTOUNDING S C I E N CE- FI CTION 




ing his leaving the system. The 
Ronuils had been informed and their 
Lunar contingent would have quar- 
ters ready for him. 

Convenient that they’re oxygen 
breathers, he thought. 

The rest was simple, if demanding. 
He had to report only to Fuller and 
the latter had lined up the wide- 
spread network of the Terr an Com- 
munications Bureau. 

All Waterfield had to do, he re- 
minded himself as he showered and 
dressed, was to keep track of the 
Ronuil investigations and organize 
manufacture of whatever they could 
make. 

“Of course,” he murmured to 
himself as he brushed his retreating 
hair, “the thing is really bigger than 
that. Why, if . . . hm-m-m, should 
have had my hair cut . . . why, if 
some non-Terrans got control of a 
gadget like this, and made it work, 
they could charge a cute credit to 
lease units for our mining colonies 
and so forth.” 

He tried on the new yellow neck 
scarf he had bought on the way 
back to the hotel. The brilliant color 
made him look more like a mouse 
than ever. He discarded it and be- 
gan to look for his old red one. 

“Yessir. Any being or beings in 
control of producing those gen- 
erators would be in the pilot’s seat. 
Almost any planet system could 
use—” 

He fell silent abruptly, staring into 
the mirror with open mouth, the red 
scarf dangling from his lirhp hand. 



Anyone in control of production—! 
An economic stranglehold! 

He stood motionless while his 
thought flickered here and there, 
probing and testing the possibilities. 
He thought of all the times he had 
developed profitable schemes or in- 
ventions, only to find himself out in 
the cold when the money rolled in. 

But this! It was perfect. To the 
Ronuils, he would be the representa- 
tive of the Bureau of Special Trad- 
ing, whom they would hardly dare 
to cross for fear of incurring Terra’s 
economic displeasure. To Terrans, 
he would be the man with the goods, 
whose price they would have to meet. 

Perhaps Fuller thought he could 
keep the Ronuils in subjection by 
forbidding widespread use of the 
generators in their planetary system. 

“What a laugh !” Waterfield told 
himself. 

The Ronuils could probably op- 
erate those generators right now. 
They could copy them, and the Ter- 
rans would have to hire Ronuil op- 
erators. There were endless possi- 
bilities. 

He finished throwing a few things 
into a traveling bag and crammed on 
top of them the volumes of his book 
which Fuller had procured. 

A few minutes later, following a 
bellboy to the elevator, he felt regret 
at the trouble Fuller would have 
when the Bureau was faced with the 
situation Waterfield intended to cre- 
ate. The man had seemed to under- 
stand him, and it was through Fuller 
that he had at last been given a 
chance to get on top. He would, he 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



63 




decided, make it a condition when 
the time came that J. Gilbert Fuller 
be the Terran representative. 

By the time he met Fuller and the 
Ronuils at the spaceport, he had 
planned such seditions that he broke 
into a sweat when he was handed his 
papers. No one seemed to notice. 

The Ronuils were bidding Fuller 
and other Terran ofiRcials farewell in 
their patient manner, while the latter 
were mostly passing out diplomatic 
compliments or apologizing for in- 
ability to speak Ronuili. After be- 
ing casually mentioned as an eco- 
nomic observer by Fuller, Water- 
field gratefully slunk into the back- 
ground and remained there. 

Fie felt exhilarated, some hours 
later, when he could look back on 
Terra from the observation dome of 
the local ' rocket. Ever since the 
take-off, time had dragged, but he 
was too full of his idea to be bored, 
or even to sleep. 

IFe went over the scheme again 
and again during the change to the 
Ronuil ship on Luna, and felt even 
better when he could look back on 
Sol without seeing any planets. 
About then he began to notice that 
he was worrying. 

Everything seemed foolproof, ex- 
cept that someone on Terra— by now 
he hesitated even to think Fuller’s 
name— someone might wake up to the 
possibilities and wonder if any man 
could be trusted with them. 

Two days from Luna, the Ronuil 
pilot announced that he would begin 
to work up to interstellar speed. 

64 



A couple of days, thought Water- 
field, and rU he beyond anything but 
a message. Then I’ll have a planet 
and a race to work with ! 

FFe decided that he would injure 
himself if he tried to bite his nails 
any shorter, and sought sleep in the 
cabin the Ronuils had furnished for 
him. They had been quite tbought- 
ful about constructing a stool and 
writing table he could use, and in 
adapting a bunk to fit him. Despite 
the remodeling of the latter, how- 
ever, he pitched and kicked in an 
uneasy half-sleep, restrained only by 
the netting from floating out. 

Fie suffered through one night- 
mare after another, in each of which 
he found himself trapped on the 
brink of escape, or had some prize 
snatched from him at the last second. 
Finally, he began to fall— and fall— 
and fall— 

Waterfield woke, and discovered 
to his immense relief that the pilot 
had put a spin on the ship. 

“Good !” he said aloud. “FFe must 
be finisbed with his astrogating for a 
while.” 

It seemed a good idea to go up to 
the control room and find out how 
far they had come. 

Waterfield made his way along the 
corridor to the control room. FFe 
enjoyed the spin ; it gave a little 
weight to his spare body. FFe began 
to plan the organizing of the Ronuil 
system immediately after his arrival 
there, but his thoughts kept wander- 
ing. Fn the back of his mind lurked 
the fear that perhaps he was not yet 
beyond Fuller’s reach. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




He reached the control room. 
There were three Ronuils there. 
Two waved languid sensory anten- 
nae in his direction, but reserved” 
their main attention for their duties. 

The third, Vahreem, rose to his 
four legs and approached the Terran 
to await orders. 

Waterfield strolled casually over 
behind the astrogator. From what 
he could make out, they were nearly 
a fight-year from Sol. He was not 
too sure of his translation of Ronuil 
writing. It might be wise to culti- 
vate Vahreem for future use. ' 

“May I be of service ?” murmured 
Vahreem. 

“No,” replied Waterfield. “I 
merely wanted to check our prog- 
ress. I must plan our work.” 

“Yes,” agreed Vahreem patiently. 
“In that connection, perhaps, is a 
message recorded for you.” 

“Message?” 

“Yes. Televised while you rested, 
before we gained speed.” 

“From whom?” demanded Water- 
field. 

“From the . . . say you ‘agent’? 
Mr. Fuller. He required that we 
confidential record it. Shall I have 
the projector sent to your quarters?” 

“Yes, do that immediately,” or- 
dered Waterfield. 

He left the control room abruptly, 
casting about for an explanation. It 
could hardly be an order to return, or 
Fuller would have spoken directly to 
the Ronuil crew. W as it an ordi- 
nary afterthought? Some little hint 
or advice? Or had Fuller decided 
the business was too dangerous ? 



He hurried to his cabin. Within 
a few minutes, a Ronuil crewman 
had arrived, set up the projector with 
its filmed message, and discreetly 
left. 

Waterfield placed the stool on the 
spaceward side of the cabin, facing 
the screen, and seated himself against 
the light centrifugal force of the spin. 

“If he made a deal with the Chot- 
zeks,” he muttered as he flipped the 
switch, “he can go reline his jets with 
something better. I won’t stop for 
that !” 

Fuller’s ruddy features appeared 
across a desk as the screen glowed to 
life. His golden hair and mustache 
were as immaculate as usual, but 
there seemed to be a quality of seri- 
ousness behind his bland expression. 

“Hello, John,” he said quietly. “I 
hope this catches you before the 
ship picks up enough speed to dis- 
tort it.” 

7 don’t like his look, thought 
Waterfield. 

“As I recall our last conversa- 
tion,” continued Fuller, meticulously 
realigning a paperweight on his desk, 
“we agreed to put you in charge of 
the Ronuil analysis and production 
of our experimental generators. That 
was jmur only request in return for 
your very valuable services.” 

“Well, I never accused you of be- 
ing stingy with expense funds,” mur- 
mured Waterfield, as Fuller’s image 
paused to inspect the new position of 
the paperweight. 

“Nevertheless,” continued the 
other, apparently satisfied, “I spent 



SPECIAL JOBBERY 



65 




a little time considering the . . . 
drawbacks of the situation. After 
carefully weighing the chances for 
success— which I regard as good— 
and listing the Terran colonies which 
we can never maintain profitably 
without this development, I thought 
of a possible flaw.” 

He paused, and Waterfield said to 
himself : 

“He can’t get me back. I won’t 
stop now !” 

The screen image of Fuller spoke 
again : 

“I expect you will be busy organiz- 
ing things, and open to sabotage 
should any of the Ronuils attempt 
to . . . ah . . . make political use of 
your work.” 

“What’s he getting at?” Water- 
field wondered. 

“I have therefore transmitted 
strict orders that you are not to be 
disturbed.” Fuller gestured casually. 
“Although, of course, I invited them 
to consult you at any time for . . . 
advice ... on their interstellar rela- 
tions.” 

“He’s cmtght on!” yelped Water- 
field, leaping up. 

He remembered his surroundings 
just in time to fend himself olf from 
the bulkhead and avoid a painful 
head bruise. He dropped lightly back 
to the deck in time to hear Fuller 
say : 

“The Bureau has ordered extra 
agents to Ronuil to make your se- 
curity air-tight. A number are trav- 
eling in your crew, incidentally— but 
you would hardly be interested in 

. 66 



our routine methods. If you have 
any trouble, Vahreem will pass your 
information along to the B. S. T-. 
chief.” 

He tapped the paperweight lightly 
with his forefinger while the raging 
Waterfield muttered curses. Vah- 
reem ! H e had been thinking of cul- 
tivating Vahreem! 

“Whatever you may think,” con- 
tinued Fuller, looking up again, “I 
sincerely believe I have made you the. 
best possible repayment. You should 
get a great deal of amusement and 
training out of this job. Later, with 
proper exploitation of your natural 
cleverness and innocuous appear- 
ance, you should go far in the Bu- 
reau. Good luck !” 

He nodded cheerfully as the film 
ended. 

Waterfield sat staring blankly into 
the dark screen. He might as well 
be tied hand and foot. B. S. T. 
agents under every rock on Ronuil 
IV ! Even in this ' very crew, al- 
though he had not seen a single Ter- 
ran among them ! He was stopped 
before he had so much as shown any 
sign of intending anything. No won- 
der the Bureau had a reputation for 
coming out on top ! 

“Well,” he told himself resignedly, 
“I suppose I’m not the first one that 
burgled their vault and had his pock- 
ets picked as he was sneaking out the 
door.” 

He thought of Ferris and Taylor, 
on a long curve to Kosor, and won- 
dered whether he had plotted a 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




course like that for himself. He rose 
and set the film back to Fuller’s last 
few remarks. 

The other’s blond and ruddy im- 
age looked him amiably in the eye 
and repeated : 

“Whatever you may think, I sin- 
cerely believe I have made you the 
best possible repayment.” 

This time, with emotions more 
under control, Waterfield thought he 
detected a sincerity he had at first 
ignored. 

“The rest is just bait,” he mut- 
tered, “but it sounds good. He may 
even mean it, and get me in on a 
permanent basis.” 

He switched off the projector and 
relaxed on his bunk to plan. This 
should not be too difficult. The 
Ronuils would be more reasonable to 
deal with than the Chotzeks, with 
their self-satisfied lack of a talent for 
co-operation, and their complete in- 
ability to understand Terran opinion 

THE 



concerning the importance of the 
individual. 

His job was basically simple— to 
use one sort of alien senses as a tool 
to translate other alien methods into 
human terms. He could hardly 
avoid an important success. 

That, Waterfield was beginning 
to realize, was what he really needed. 
To be a success among Terrans. To 
have spent his life among these non- 
human beings, with their different 
standards and values, would have 
been futile. This was the new chance 
he had been seeking the first time he 
had met Fuller ; now he had better 
do something more with it than to 
cause trouble..- 

“To begin with,” he told himself, 
“I feel as if I could catch up on my 
sleep.” 

He enjoyed the strange luxuries 
of relaxation ahd confidence. What- 
ever the sincerity content of the bait, 
it had gone down smoothly enough. 

END 



IN TIMES TO COME 

Time is cramped by space this issue, so- we’ll confine to a very few remarks what 
comments we can make. Chan Davis, absent these many moons, is back with the 
feature short-novel, “The Aristocrat” involving a problem of, in essence, the dignity of 
the instructor— or should a teacher run the place? 

L. Ron Hubbard’s back, too, with a new type of hero for the science-fiction field— the 
professional technician who’s normal business is producing impossible miracles offhand 
on call. This one concerns a subj ect rare in science-fiction, too— a horse. Remarkable 
racer he was, to . . . 

Raymond F. Jones has a little yarn about a spacesuit, that we recommend to your 
attention. Nothing big, or important— but more than usual content of fun packed into 
its five thousand words ! 

And the article next issue, “Chance Remarks”, very appropriately follows an R. F. 
Jones’ story. It was Jones who wrote “Fifty Million Monkeys”. “Chance Remarks” 
reports some very real, basic, and highly interesting research that takes off from just 
the sort of idea Jones proposed 1 

The Editor. 

SPECIAL JOBBERY AST-3K 67 





HIDE AND SEEK 



BY ARTHUR C. CLARKE 

It’s obvious that, a fight between one man in a space- 
suit, and a full-fledged space cruiser is, certainly, 

“no contest”. True — but you’ve got the wrong slant! 

Illustrated by Hicks 

We were walking back through the for immediate execution as a result 
woods when Kingman saw the gray of the damage it had done to the trees 
squirrel. Our bag was a small but on the estate, and perhaps it had lost 
varied one— three grouse, a couple of close relatives to Kingman’s gun. In 
pigeons and four rabbits— one, I am three leaps it had reached the base 
sorry to say, an infant in arms. And of the nearest tree, and vanished be- 
contrary to certain dark forecasts, hind it in a flicker of gray. We saw 
both the dogs were still alive. its face once more, appearing for a 

The squirrel saw us at the same moment round the edge of its shield 
moment. It knew that it was marked a dozen feet from the ground ; but 

68 ASTOUNDING SC I F. N C E-F I CTI ON 



though we waited, with guns leveled 
hopefully at various branches, we 
never saw it again. 

Kingman was very thoughtful as 
we walked back across the lawn to 
the magnificent old house. He said 
nothing as we handed our victims to 
the cook— who received them with- 
out much enthusiasm— and only 
emerged from his reverie when we 
were sitting in the smoking room 
and he remembered his duties as a 
host. 

“That tree-rat,” he said suddenly 
—he always called them “tree-rats,” 
on the grounds that people were too 
sentimental to shoot the dear little 
squirrels— “it reminded me of a very 
peculiar experience that happened 
shortly before I retired. Very shortly 
indeed, in fact.” 

“I thought it would,” said Carson 
dryly. I gave him a glare ; he’d been 
in the Navy and had heard King- 



man’s stories before, but they were 
still new to me. 

“Of course,” Kingman remarked, 
slightly nettled, “if you’d rather I 
didn’t-” 

“Do go on,” I said hastily. 
“You’ve made me curious. What 
connection there can possibly be be- 
tween a gray squirrel and the Sec- 
ond Jovian War I can’t imagine.” 

Kingman seemed mollified. 

“I think I’d better change some 
names,” he said thoughtfully, “but I 
won’t alter the places. The story be- 
gins about a million kilometers sun- 
wards of Mars—” 

K.15 was a military intelligence 
operator. It gave him considerable 
pain when unimaginative people 
called him a spy, but at the moment 
he had much more substantial 
grounds for complaint. For some 
days now a fast cruiser had been 




„EIDE AND SEEK 



69 



coming up astern, and though it was 
ilattering to have the undivided at- 
tention of such a fine ship and so 
many highly-trained men, it was an 
honor that K.15 would willingly have 
forgone. 

What made the situation doubly 
annoying was the fact that his 
friends would be meeting him off 
Mars in about twelve hours, aboard 
a ship quite capable of dealing with 
a mere cruiser— from which you will 
gather that K.15 was a person of 
some importance. Unfortunately, 
the most optimistic calculation 
showed that the pursuers would be 
within accurate gun range in six 
hours. In some six hours five min- 
utes, therefore, K.15 was likely to 
occupy an extensive and still ex- 
panding volume of space. 

There might just be time for him 
to land on Mars, but that would be 
one of the worst things he could do. 
It would certainly annoy the aggres- 
jSively neutral Martians, and the 
political complications would be 
frightful. Moreover, if his friends 
had to come down to the planet to 
rescue him, it would cost them more 
than ten kilometers a second in fuel 
—most of their operational reserve. 

He had only one advantage, and 
that a very dubious one. The com- 
mander of the cruiser tnight guess 
that he was heading for a rendez- 
vous, but he would not know how 
close it was nor how large was the 
ship that was coming to meet him. 
If he could keep alive for only twelve 
hours, he would be safe. The “if” 
was a somewhat considerable one. 



K.15 looked moodily at his charts, 
wondering if it was worth while to 
burn the rest of his fuel in a final 
dash. But a dash to where? He 
would be completely helpless then, 
and the pursuing ship might still 
have enough in her tanks to catch 
him as he flashed outwards into 
the empty darkness, beyond all hope 
of rescue— passing his friends as they 
■came sunwards at a relative speed 
so great that they could do nothing 
to save him. 

With sonie people, the shorter the 
expectation of life, the more slug- 
gish are the mental processes. They 
seem hypnotized by the approach of 
death, so resigned to their fate that 
they do nothing to avoid it. K.15, 
on the other hand, found that his 
mind worked better in such a des- 
perate emergency. It began to work 
as it had seldom done before. 

Commander Smith— the name will 
do as well as any other— of the cruis- 
er Doradus was not unduly surpris- 
ed when K.15 began to decelerate. 
He had half expected the spy to land 
on Mars, on the principle that in- 
ternment was better than annihila- 
tion, but when the plotting room 
brought the news that the little scout 
ship was heading for Phobos, he felt 
completely baffled. The inner moon 
was nothing but a jumble of 
rock some twenty kilometers across, 
■and not even the economical Mar- 
tians had ever found any use for it, 
K.15 must be pretty desperate if he 
thought it was going to be of greater 
value to him. 



70 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




The tiny scout had almost come 
to rest when the radar operator lost 
it against the mass of Phobos. Dur- 
ing the braking maneuver, K.15 had 
squandered most of his lead and the 
Doradus was now only minutes 
away— though she was now begin- 
ning to decelerate lest she overrun 
him. The cruiser was scarcely three 
thousand kilometers from Phobos 
when she came to a complete halt ; 
but of K.lS’s ship, there was still 
no sign. It should be easily visible 
in the telescopes, but it was prob- 
ably on the far side of the little 
moon. 

It reappeared only a few minutes 
later, traveling under full thrust on 
a course directly away from the sun. 
It was accelerating at almost five 
gravities— and it had broken its radio 
silence. An automatic recorder was 
broadcasting over and over again 
this interesting message : 

“I have landed on Phobos and am 
being attacked by a Z-class cruiser. 
Think I can hold out until you come, 
but hurry.” 

The message wasn’t even in code, 
and it left Commander Smith a sore- 
ly puzzled man. The assumption 
that K.15 was still aboard the ship 
and that the whole thing was a ruse 
was just a little too naive. But it 
might be a double-bluff— the mes- 
sage had obviously been left in plain 
language so that he wovdd receive 
it and be duly confused. He could 
afford neither the time nor the fuel 
to chase the scout if K.15 really had 
landed. It w’as clear that reinforce- 
ments were on the way, and the- 

HIDE AND SEEK 



sooner he left the vicinity the bet- 
ter. The phrase “Think I can hold 
out until you come” might be a 
piece of sheer impertinence, or it 
might mean that help was very near 
indeed. 

Then K.15’s ship stopped blast- 
ing. It had obviously exhausted its 
fuel, and was doing a little better 
than six kilometers a second away 
from the sun. K.15 must have land- 
ed, for his ship was now speeding 
helplessly out of the solar system. 
Commander Smith didn’t like the 
message it was broadcasting, and 
guessed that it was running into the 
track of an approaching warship at 
some indefinite distance, but there 
was nothing to be done about that 
The Doradus began to move to- 
wards Phobos, anxious to waste no 
time. 

On the face of it. Commander 
Smith seemed the master of the 
situation. His ship was armed with 
a dozen heavy guided missiles and 
two turrets of electromagnetic guns. 
Against him was one man in a space- 
suit, trapped on a moon only twenty 
kilometers across. It was not until 
Commander Smith had his first good 
look at Phobos, from a distance of 
less than a hundred kilometers, that 
he began to realize that, after all, 
K.15 might have a few cards up his 
sleeve. 

Tq say that Phobos has a diame- 
ter of twenty kilometers, as the 
astronomy books invariably do, is 
highly misleading. The word “di- 
ameter” implies a degree of sym- 
metry which Phobos most certainly 

71 




lacks. Like those other lumps of 
cosmic slag, the asteroids, it is a 
shapeless mass of rock floating in 
space, with, of course, no hint of a 
atmosphere and not much more 
gravity. It turns on its axis once 
every seven hours thirty-nine min- 
utes, thus keeping the same face al- 
ways to Mars— which is so close that 
appreciably less than half the planet 
is visible, the Poles being below the 
curve of the horizon. Beyond this, 
there is very little more to be said 
about Phobos. 

K.15 had no time to enjoy the 
beauty of the crescent world filling 
the sky above him. He threw all 
the equipment he could carry out of 
the air lock, set the controls, and 
jumped. As the little ship went 
flaming out towards the stars he 
watched it go with feelings he did 
not care to analyze. He had burned 
his boats with a vengeance, and he 
could only hope that the oncoming 
battleship would intercept the radio 
message as the empty vessel went 
racing by into nothingness. There 
was also a faint possibility that the 
enemy cruiser might go in pursuit, 
but that was rather too much to 
hope for. , 

He turned to examine his new 
home. The only light was the ochre 
radiance of Mars, since the sun was 
below the horizon, but that was quite 
sufficient for his purpose and he 
covdd see. very well. He stood in 
the center of an irregular plain about 
two kilometers across, surrounded 
by low hills over which he could 

72 



leap rather easily if he wished. There 
was a story he remembered reading 
long ago about a man who had ac- 
cidentally jumped off Phobos; that 
wasn’t quite possible— though it was 
on Deimos— as the escape velocity 
was still about ten meters a second. 
But unless he was careful, he might 
easily find himself at such a height 
that it would take hours to fall back 
to the surface— and that would be 
fatal. For K.lS’s plan was a simple 
one— he must remain as close to the 
surface of Phobos as possible and 
diametrically opposite the cruiser. 
The Doradus could t,hen fire all her 
armament against the twenty kilo- 
meters of rock, and he wouldn’t 
even feel the concussion. There 
were only two serious dangers, and 
one of these did not worry him 
greatly. 

To the layman, knowing nothing 
of the finer details of astronautics, 
the plan would have seemed quite 
suicidal. The Doradus was armed 
with the latest in ultra-scientific 
weapons ; moreover, the twenty kilo- 
meters which separated her from 
her prey represented less than a 
second’s flight at maximum speed. 
But Commander Smith knew bet- 
ter, and was already feeling rather 
unhappy. He realized, only too well, 
that of all the machines of trans- 
port man has ever invented, a cruis- 
er of space is far and away the least 
maneuverable. It was a simple fact 
that K.15 could make half a dozen 
circuits of his little world while her 
commander was persuading the 
Doradus to do even one. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




There is no need to go into tech- 
nical details, but those who are still 
unconvinced might like to consider 
these elementary facts. A rocket- 
driven spaceship can, obviously, 
only accelerate along its major axis 
—that is, “forwards”. Any deviation 
from a straight course demands a 
physical turning of the ship, so that 
the motors can blast in another di- 
rection. Everyone knows that this 
is done by internal gyros or tan- 
gential steering jets— but very few 
people know just how long this 
simple maneuver takes. The av- 
erage cruiser, fully fueled, has a 
mass of two or three thousand tons, 
which does not make for "rapid foot- 
work. But things are even worse 
than this, for it isn’t the mass, but 
the moment of inertia that matters 
here— and since a cruiser is a long, 
thin object, its moment of inertia 
is slightly colossal. The sad fact 
remains— though it is seldom men- 
tioned by astronautical engineers— 
that it takes a good ten minutes to 
rotate a spaceship through one hun- 
dred eighty degrees, with gyros of 
any reasonable size. Control jets 
aren’t much quicker, and in any case 
their use is restricted because the 
rotation they produce is permanent 
and they are liable to leave the ship 
spinning like a slow-motion pin- 
wheel, to the annoyance of all inside. 

In the ordinary way, these dis- 
advantages are not very grave. One 
has millions of kilometers and hun- 
dreds of hours in which to deal with 
such minor matters as a change in 
the ship’s orientation. It is defi- 



nitely against the rules to move in 
ten-kilometer radius circles, and the 
commander of the Doradus felt dis- 
tinctly aggrieved. K.15 wasn’t play- 
ing fair. 

At the same moment that re- 
sourceful individual was taking 
stock of the situation, which might 
very well have been worse. He had 
reached the hills in three jumps and 
felt less naked than he had out in 
the open plain. The food and 
equipment he had taken from the 
ship he had hidden where he hoped 
he could find it again, but as his 
suit could keep him alive for over 
a day that was the least of his wor- 
ries. The small packet that was the 
cause of all the trouble was still 
with him, in one of those numerous 
hiding places a w'ell-designed space- 
suit affords. 

There was an exhilarating lone- 
liness about his mountain aerie, even 
though he was not quite as lonely 
as he would have wished. Forever 
fixed in his sky. Mars was waning 
almost visibly as Phobos swept 
above the night side of the planet. 
He could just make out the lights 
of some of the Martian cities, gleam- 
ing pin-points marking the junctions 
of the invisible canals. All else was 
sfars and silence and a line of jag- 
ged peaks so close it seemed he could 
almost touch them. Of the Doradus 
there was still no sign. She was 
presumably carrying out a careful 
telescopic examination of the sunlit 
side of Phobos. 

Mars was a very useful clock— 



HIDE AND SEEK 



73 




when it was half full the sun would 
rise and, very probably, so would 
the Doradus. But she might ap- 
proach from some quite unexpected 
quarter ; she might even— and this 
was the one real danger— have land- 
ed a search party. 

This was the first possibility that 
had occurred to Commander Smith 
when he saw just what he was up 
against. Then he realized that the 
surface area of Phobos was over a 
thousand square kilometers and that 
he could not spare more than ten 
men from his crew to make a search 
of that jumbled wilderness. Also, 
K.15 would certainly be armed. 

Considering the weapons which 
the Doradus carried, this last ob- 
jection might seem singularly point- 
less. It was very far from being so. 
In the ordinary course of business, 
side arms and other portable weap- 
ons are as much use to a space- 
cruiser as are cutlasses and cross- 
bows. The Doradus happened, quite 
by chance— and against regulations 
at that— to carry one automatic pistol 
and a hundred rounds of ammuni- 
tion. Any search party would, 
therefore, consist of a group of un- 
armed men looking for a well con- 
cealed and very desperate individual 
who could pick them off at his lei- 
sure. K.15 was breaking the rules 
again. 

The terminator of Mars was now 
a perfectly straight line, and at al- 
most the same moment the sun came 
up, not so much like thunder as like 
a salvo of atomic bombs. K.15 ad- 
justed the filters of his visor and de- 

74 



cided to move. It was safer to stay 
out of the sunlight, not only because 
he was less likely to be detected in 
the shadow but also because his eyes 
would be much more sensitive there. 
He had only a pair of binoculars to 
help him, whereas the Doradus 
would carry an electronic telescope 
of -twenty centimeters aperture at 
least. 

It would be best, K.15 decided, 
to locate the cruiser if he could. It 
might be a rash thing to do, but he 
would feel much happier when he 
knew exactly where she w'as and 
could watch her movements. He 
could then keep just below the hori- 
zon, and the glare of the rockets 
would give him ample warning of 
any impending move. Cautiously 
launching himself along an almost 
horizontal trajectory, he began the 
circumnavigation of his world. 

The narrowing crescent of Mars 
sank below the horizon until only 
one vast horn reared itself enig- 
matically against the stars. K.15 
began to feel worried— there was still 
no sign of the Doradus. But this 
was hardly surprising, for she was 
painted black as night and might be 
a good hundred kilometers away in 
space. He stopped, wondering if 
he had done the right thing after 
all. Then he noticed that some- 
thing quite large was eclipsing the 
stars almost vertically overhead, and 
was moving swiftly even as he 
watched. His heart stopped for a 
moment— then he was himself again, 
analyzing the situation and trying 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




to discover how he had made so 
disastrous a mistake. 

It was some time before he real- 
ized that the black shadow slipping 
across the sky was not the cruiser 
at all, but something almost equally 
deadly. It was far smaller, and 
far nearer, than he had at first 
thought. The Doradus had sent 
her television-homing guided mis- 
siles to look for him. 

This was the second danger he 
had feared, and there was nothing 
he could do about it except to re- 
main as inconspicuous as possible. 
The Doradus now had many eyes 
searching for him, but these auxili- 
aries had very severe limitations. 
They had been built to look for sun- 
lit spaceships against a background 
of stars, not to search for a man hid- 
ing in a dark jungle of rock. The 
definition of their television systems 
was low, and they could only see 
in the forward direction. 

There were rather more men on 
the chessboard now, and the game 
was a little deadlier, but his was still 
the advantage. The torpedo van- 
ished into the night sky. As it 
was traveling on a nearly straight 
course in this low gravitational field, 
it would soon be leaving Phobos 
behind, and K.15 waited for what he 
knew must happen. A few minutes 
later, he saw a brief stabbing of 
rocket exhausts and guessed that the 
projectile was swinging slowly back 
on its course. At almost the same 
moment he saw another flare far 
away in the opposite quarter of the 
sky, and wondered just how many 



of these infernal machines were in 
action. From what he knew ' of 
Z-class cruisers— which was a good 
deal more than he should— there 
were four missile control channels, 
and they were probably all in use. 

He was suddenly struck by an 
idea so brilliant that he was quite 
sure it couldn’t possibly work. The 
radio on his suit was a tunable one, 
covering an unusually wide band, 
and somewhere not far away the 
Doradus was pumping out power on 
everything from a thousand mega- 
cycles upwards. He switched on 
the receiver and began to explore. 

It came in quickly— the raucous 
whine of a pulse transmitter not far 
away. He was probably only pick- 
ing up a subharmonic, but that was 
rpiite good enough. It D/F’ed sharp- 
ly, and for the first time K.15 al- 
lowed himself to make long-range 
plans about the future. The Doradus 
had betrayed herself— as long as she 
operated her missiles, he would 
know exactly where she was. 

He moved cautiously forward to- 
wards the transmiter. To his sur- 
prise the signal faded, then increased 
sharply again. This puzzled him 
until he realized that he must be 
moving through a diffraction zone. 
Its width might have told him some- 
thing useful if he had been a good 
enough physicist, but he couldn’t 
imagine what. 

The Doradus was hanging about 
five kilometers above the surface, 
in full sunlight. Her “nonreflect- 
ing” painj was overdue for renewal, 
and K.15 could see her clearly. As 



HIDE AND SEEK 



75 




he was still in darkness, and the 
shadow line was moving away from 
him, he decided that he was as safe 
here as anywhere. He settled down 
comfortably so that he could just 
see the cruiser and waited, feeling 
fairly certain that none of the guided 
projectiles would come too near the 
ship. By now, he calculated, the 
commander of the Doradus must be 
getting pretty mad. He was per- 
fecly correct. 

After an hour, the cruiser began 
to heave herself round with all the 
grace of a bogged hippopotamus. 
K.15 guessed what was happening. 
Commander Smith was going to 
have a look at the antipodes, and 
was preparing for the perilous fifty 
kilometer journey. He watched very 
carefully to see the orientation the 
ship was adopting, and when she 
came to rest again was relieved to 
see that she was almost broadside 
on ,to him. Then, with a series of 
jerks that could not have been very 
enjoyable aboard, the cruiser began 
to move down to the horizon. K.15 
followed -her at a comfortable walk- 
ing pace— if one could use the phrase 
—reflecting that this was a feat very 
few people had ever performed. He 
was particularly careful not to over- 
take her on one of his kilometer- 
long glides, and kept a close watch 
for any missiles that might be com- 
ing up astern. 

It took the Doradus nearly an 
hour to cover the fifty kilometers. 
This, as K.15 amused himself by 
calculating, represented considerably 

76 



less than a thousandth of her normal 
speed. Once she found herself going 
off into space at a tangent, and rath- 
er than waste time turning end over 
end again fired oft' a salvo of shells 
to reduce speed. But she made it 
at last, and K.15 settled down for 
another vigil, wedged between two 
rocks where he could just see the 
cruiser and he was quite sure she 
couldn’t see him. It occurred to 
him that by this time Commander 
Smith might have grave doubts as 
to whether he really was on Phobos 
at all, and he felt like firing off a 
signal flare to reassure him. How- 
ever, he resisted the temptation. 

There would be little point in de- 
scribing the events of the next ten 
hours, since they differed in no im- 
portant detail from those that had 
gone before. The Doradus made 
three other moves, and K.15 stalked 
her with the care of a big-game 
hunter following the spoor of some 
elephantine beast. Once, when she 
would have led him out into full sun- 
light, he let her fall below the hori- 
zon until he could only just pick up 
her signals. But most of the time he 
kept her just visible, usually low 
down behind some convenient hill. 

Once a torpedo exploded some 
kilometers away, and K.15 guessed 
that some exasperated operator had 
seen a shadow he didn’t like— or 
else that a technician had forgotten 
to switch off a proximity fuze. 
Otherwise nothing happened to en- 
liven the proceedings; in fact, the 
whole affair was becoming rather 
boring. ^He almost welcomed the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




sight of an occasional guided missile 
drifting inquisitively overhead, for 
he did not believe that they could 
see him if he remained motionless 
and in reasonable cover. If he 
could have stayed on the part of 
Phobos exactly opposite the cruiser, 
he would have been safe even from 
these, he realized, since the ship 
would have no control there in the 
moon’s radio-shadow. But he could 
think of no reliable way in which he 
could be sure of staying in the safety 
zone if the cruiser moved again. 

The end came very abruptly. 
There was a sudden blast-of steering 
jets, and the cruiser’s main drive 
burst forth in all its power and 
splendor. In seconds the Doradus 
was shrinking sunwards, free at last, 
thankful to leave, Even in defeat, 
this miserable lump of rock that had 
so annoyingly balked her of her 
legitimate prey. K.15 knew what 
had happened, and a great sense of 
peace and relaxation swept over him. 
In the radar room of the cruiser, 
someone had seen an echo of dis- 
concerting amplitude approaching 
with altogether excessive speed. 
K.15 now had only to switch on his 
suit beacon and to wait. He could 
even afford the luxury of a cigarette. 

“Quite an interesting story,’’ I 
said, “and I see now how it ties up 
with that squirrel. But it does raise 
one or two queries in my mind.’’ 

“Indeed?” said Rupert Kingman 
politely. 

I always like to get to the bottom 

THE 



of things, and I knew that my host 
had played a part in the Jovian War 
about which he very seldom spoke. 
I decided to risk a long shot in the 
dark. 

“May I ask how you happened to 
know so much about this unortho- 
dox military engagement? It isn’t 
possible, is it, that you were K.15?” 

There was an odd sort of strangl- 
ing noise from Carson. Then King- 
man said, quite calmly : 

“No, I wasn’t.” 

He got to his feet and started to- 
wards the gun room. 

“If you’ll excuse me a moment. 
I’m going to have another shot at 
that tree-rat. Maybe I’ll get him 
this time.” Then he was gone. 

Carson looked at me as if to say : 
“This is another house you’ll never 
be invited to again.” When our host 
was out of earshot he remarked in 
a coldly clinical tone : 

“What did you have to say that 
for?” 

“Well, it seemed a safe guess. 
How else could he have known all 
that?” 

“As a matter of fact, I believe he 
met K.15 after the war; they must 
have had an interesting conversation 
together. But I thought you knew 
that Rupert was retired from the 
service with only the rank of lieuten- 
ant commander. The Court of In- 
quiry could never see his point of 
view. After all, it just wasn’t rea- 
sonable that the commander of the 
fastest ship in the Fleet couldn’t 
catch a man in a spacesuit.” 

END 



HIDE AND SEEK 



77 




CYBERNETICS 

BY E. L. LOCKE 

Machines do not — yet! — think. But they begin to display neurological 
symptoms — and after all, animals don’t think. Cybernetics is a double- 
ended approach to the twin mysteries: how can we mqjce a machine 
think — and how does the thinking machine we have, the brain, work?. 



The birth of a new science is sel- 
dom a well heralded event. Its ini- 
tial growth is generally so slow that 
for a long time only a few special- 
ists are aware of its existence. How- 
ever, once in a blue moon, the im- 
portance of a new idea is so evident 
and its development is so rapid that 
the world quickly becomes aware of 
it. 

The case in point is the new sci- 
ence which has been brought to the 
public’s attention through the publi- 
cation of the book “Cybernetics,”* 

*John Wiley and Sons: pp. 194, $3.00 

by Norbert Wiener, Professor of 
Mathematics at MIT. Its subtitle, 
“Control and Communication in the 
Animal and the Machine” indicates 
that the new science deals with the 
common elements in the functioning 
of automatic and living machines. It 
thus straddles the physical sciences 

78 



and the sciences of life. More spe- 
cifically, it is an infusion of the basic 
concepts of communication and con- 
trol engineering into the fields of 
physiology, psychiatry and psychol- 
ogy. So at least is the view of Pro- 
fessor Wiener. Others, however, 
feel that its scope is even broader 
and that the concepts are not re- 
stricted to the study of the individual 
but are also applicable to social 
groups. Attempts have already been 
made to apply the principles to soci- 
ology, public opinion surveys, an- 
thropology, ecology and other fields. 

The name, cybernetics, is derived 
from the Greek word “kybernetes” 
meaning steersman. Its suggestive- 
ness is more apparent if we note that 
its Latin equivalent is “gubernator” 
meaning governor. The name thus 
implies that the science deals with 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




the processes and means used to 
control the machine, human or 
otherwise. 

The idea that living organisms can 
be described in terms of physical 
concepts has always been resisted by 
the vitalists. Thus, in the early days 
of chemistry, it was maintained that 
organic compounds could never be 
produced artificially. During the 
nineteenth century some biologists 
made attempts to apply the physics 
of the time to their problem. The 
dominant notion of physics was en- 
ergy. The attempt to explain bi- 
ology in these terms failed, to the 
great satisfaction of the vitalists. To 
quote the views held in 1885 by one 
of the leading biologists : 

“. . . to the enlightened biologist 
a living organism does not present a 
problem for analysis, it is axiomatic. 
Its essential attributes are axio- 



matic; heredity, for example, is for 
biology not a problem but an axiom.” 

The vitalists are still with us. In 
1946 at a meeting where results ob- 
tained by cybernetic methods were 
presented,' one of the listeners made 
a little speech to the effect that in 
1841, XYZ said that living processes 
could not possibly be studied through 
the application of physical sciences 
and by heck, that was still good 
enough for him. So we may expect 
that Professor Wiener’s views will 
meet with opposition from the tra- 
ditionalists and the authoritarians. 
It is therefore encouraging to note 
that among his co-workers and fol- 
lowers are numbered some of the 
most outstanding men in the biologi- 
cal sciences. 

If we take the point of view that 
a living organism is purposeful and 
goal seeking— teleological— then its 




SIGNAL 



LOAD 



FICr. I 



CYBERNETICS 



79 







behavior must depend on the in- 
formation its senses bring it. The 
basic mechanism that the organism 
uses to attain its goal is feedback. 

The notion of what is meant by in- 
formation has been reduced by 
Wiener, Shannon of the Bell Tele- 
phone Laboratories and others to an 
exact mathematical theory. It is a 
fascinating study in itself and has 
uncovered some startling and ex- 
tremely valuable ideas on electrical 
communication. In his book, Pro- 
fessor Wiener devotes a chapter to 
it, one of the toughest to read, inci- 
dentally. However, it is not abso- 
lutely essential for our purposes to 
go into it further and we shall turn 
now to an examination of the feed- 
back concept. 

It seems to be one of those rare 
concepts that science is always look- 
ing for ; one that will unify broad 
but apparently unrelated fields. Like 
so many other concepts, it had its 
origin in engineering needs. Troubles 
with the steam engine governor, a 
negative feedback mechanism, re- 
sulted in a classical analysis by the 
great Clerk Maxwell. There the 
matter lay forgotten until 1924 when 
H. 'S. Black of the Bell Telephone 
Laboratories invented the negative 
feedback amplifier for reducing the 
distortion produced by telephone 
amplifiers. 

There were a lot of troubles ini- 
tially with these feedback amplifier 
designs, because they turned out to 
be unstable. That is, they broke into 

80 



spontaneous oscillation. However, 
Nyquist of Bell Telephone Labora- 
tories evolved an analytical test 
which would predict whether a de- 
sign would be stable or not. Some- 
what later. Bode, also of B. T. L. 
solved the converse problem, the 
synthesis of systems which were 
guaranteed to he stable. Under the 
needs created by the war, these prin- 
ciples were applied to control en- 
gineering which up to that time had 
been on a hit or miss basis. Since 
some of the most striking engineer- 
ing examples of feedback occur in 
this field, let us use one of its ex- 
amples, a gun drive servomechanism. 

Suppose you had the problem of 
continuously pointing a heavy gun 
at a rapidly moving target, given a 
computing device which, instant by 
instant, tells you the proper direc- 
tion to point the gun. Let us assume 
also that a powerful electric motor is 
available to furnish the motive power 
to the gun, and, to make it easy, the 
computer puts out its solution in the 
form of an electrical signal. 

The obvious thought is to connect 
the computer output to the gun drive 
motor. The first difficulty to occur 
is that the energy in the computer 
signal is not enough to drive the gun 
motor. Hence, as the first require- 
ment, you must put an amplifier 
between the computer and the motor. 

You now have what is called an 
open-cycle system. It works but 
only after a fashion. For example 
if the friction of the gun bearings in- 
creases above normal, the gun posi- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




tion will lag behind the signal. You 
then discover the second require- 
ment, the need to monitor the gun 
position and compare its actual posi- 
tion, each instant, with what the 
computer says it should have been. 
Now that the error is known, it can 
be corrected. It is necessary only 
to amplify the error signal enough 
to run the motor. 

This now gives a closed-cycle sys- 
tem. The arrangement is shown 
schematically in Figure 1. *The load 
is driven by the prime mover. A 
suitable telltale is attached to the 
load. This monitors the response 
of the load and puts out a suitable 
signal proportional to the load’s po- 
sition. This goes to the error de- 
tector which subtracts the response 
.from the input, forming the error 
signal. This is then amplified 
enough to run the motor. In many 
cases additional structures may be 
interposed in the loop to correct for 
the peculiarities of the load and the 
amplifier-prime mover combination. 
All these elements are collectively 
called a feedback loop. 

If the motor element is powerful 
and fast enough in its response, and 
the amplification is great enough, the 
motion of the load will be a very 
accurate copy of the input signal. 
Since the response signal is made to 
oppose the input signal, the system is 
said to have negative feedback. The 
great advantage of such systems is 
that a signal can be reproduced ac- 
curately at a very high power level, 
without the performance being sens- 



ibly affected by reasonable variations 
in load, fluctuations of the power 
supply, et cetera. 

This is all very fine except for one 
thing; the feedback does not stay 
negative but eventually turns posi- 
tive. Let us see what we mean by 
the word “eventually” and what can 
happen when the feedback turns 
positive. 

Imagine that a momentary dis- ■ 
turbance arises within the loop. The 
amplifier intensifies it and passes it- 
on to the motor. If the motor is fast 
in., its response and forces the load 
to follow this amplified disturbance, 
then the telltale will pass this on to 
the amplifier. The load then re- 
ceives a larger nudge which is then 
repeated and amplified, et cetera. 
Eventually the load is no longer un- 
der the control of the input signal. 
Instead, it will settle into an oscilla- 
tory motion of ever increasing ampli- 
tude, which may destroy the me- 
chanism if unchecked. 

This is a case of uncontrolled posi- 
tive feedback. Positive feedback can 
not be prevented, but by proper de- 
sign can be made harmless. The 
key to this is that the trouble oc- 
curred because the response w^as too 
good to very brief disturbances, or, 
as the engineers say, its high-fre- 
quency response was too good. The 
best cure is to use compensators and 
feedback networks so designed that 
they attenuate these high frequen- 
cies more than the amplifier intensi- 
fies them. If proper attention is paid 



CYBERNETICS 



81 




to Nyquist’s criterion in designing 
these networks, a disturbance will be 
weakened wdth each round trip 
around the loop and will eventually 
die out. How soon this happens 
depends on the goodness of the 
design. 

It must not be assumed that feed- 
back systems can have only one loop. 
Indeed, as is the case wdth the auto- 
matic steering of ships, it can be 
proved that two loops are needed to 
achieve stability. The feedback sys- 
tems in the human body have many 
loops. Apparently the only reason 
why greater engineering use is not 
made of multi-loop systems is that 
they are too hard to design. 

How do these concepts apply to 
body jirocesses? Let us start with 
some simple act of volition such as 
picking up a glass of water. We do 
not and probably could not call the 
successive muscles into play by con- 
scious will. What happens is that 
our eye and our sense of feel report 
to the brain how far we are from our 
goal. This is the error signal which 
goes to the nervous system. The 
motion is then directed to go on in 
such a direction as to reduce the 
error signal toward zero. In addi- 
tion to the main feedback loop, eye- 
nervous system — muscle — glass of 
water— eye, there are minor loops 
which co-ordinate the muscles of the 
several joints involved in the motion. 
These feedbacks are also on a sub- 
conscious level and are called pos- 
i tural feedbacks. The nervous sys- 
tem is the monitor which sees to it 
that the motion is completed. 

82 



These feedback systems are sub- 
ject to the same troubles that a 
poorly designed feedback device can 
fall heir to. For instance, suppose 
that in Figure 1 the error signal 
path is opened by a break in the con- 
nection. This has a w'ell known 
counterpart in the affliction known 
as tabes dorsalis. Though the pa- 
tient’s muscles are in good order he 
can not w’alk without being ordered. 
Even then he w'alks in a peculiar 
manner \fith his eyes w'atching his 
leg motion. His trouble is that the 
part of the spinal cord wdiich carries 
the error signal has been destroyed 
by syphilis. To monitor his walk- 
ing he has to rely on his eyes and 
sense of balance. 

There are cases of positive feed- 
back. W e have mentioned that in a 
machine this results in an oscillatory 
motion that successively overshoots 
and then undershoots, et cetera. The 
counterpart in the human being is 
known as purpose tremor. Hand its 
victim a glass of water and he will 
go into such violent oscillations in at- 
tempting to get it to his mouth that 
it will spill completely. The trouble 
here has been tracked dowm to dam- 
age to the cerebellum— low'er brain— 
which has the job of proportioning 
the muscular response to the error 
signal. 

As Wiener says, this point of 
view is much broader than that cur- 
rently held by neurophysiologists. 
In their view, the central nervous 
system is a self-contained organ 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




which receives information from the 
sensory organs and then orders the 
muscles to perform. In the lan- 
guage of the control engineer, this 
would be an open-cycle process. Ac- 
tually it is a circular or feedback 
process, the path being “nervous sys- 
tem to muscle to sense organ to nerv- 
ous system”. From what has been 
said on the gun problem, it is clear 
that there is all the difference in the 
world between the two processes. 

These ideas are more than mere 
theories. For instance, muscles can 
go into uncontrolled vibration under 
certain pathological conditions. This 
disease, known as clonus, has been 
analyzed by Wiener using feedback 
theory. He predicted certain fre- 
quencies and amplitudes of vibration 
as a function of the tension in the 
muscle. These results were in good 
agreement with measured values. 

Among other feedback processes 
in the body, the regulatory— homeo- 
static— ones are worth noting. The 
regulation of body temperature, hy- 
drogen ion concentration in the 
blood, blood pressure, the calcium 
metabolism, the elimination of waste 
products, are some examples of feed- 
back processes. They differ from 
the postural feedbacks in that the 
homeostatic ones are much slower. 
This is because the effectors must 
move faster than the glands and 
smooth muscles. 

One of the important contribu- 
tions of Cybernetics is its recogni- 
tion that there are fundamental simi- 
larities between the body processes 



and modern computing machines. 
There are two broad classes of these 
machines, analog and digital.* In 

* See "Modern Calculators," by E. L. Locke, As- 
tounding Science Fiction, January, 1949. 

the first type, we build a physical 
device whose laws of performance 
are the same as the equations we 
wish to solve. In the second type, 
we reduce the problem to arith- 
metical operations and the machine 
performs the required operations in 
accordance with the instructions that 
have been put into its memory. In 
most such machines, the numbers 
are represented in the binary system. 
This uses only two digits, 0 and 1. 
This has the great advantage that 
the digit 1 can be represented by a 
simple electrical pulse and the digit 
zero by the absence of a pulse. 

The body abounds in analog type 
mechanisms, generally of the homeo- 
static type. The central nervous 
system, however, works much like a 
digital machine. The basic element 
of the machine is the relay. This is 
a device that can exist in one -of two 
states, off or on. If a pulse comes in, 
the relay operates and repeats the 
pulse. In the latest machines, the 
relay element is the electron tube, an 
extremely fast operating device. The 
corresponding element in the human 
body is the neuron or nerve cell. It 
is very much smaller than the arti- 
fact but it is also very much slower. 
Each neuron can receive pulses from 
other neurons through nerve fibers 
at points of contact called synapses 
of w'hich there may be as many as 
several hundred or perhaps just a 
few per neuron. 



CYBERNETICS 



AST-4K 



83 




Like all relays, the neuron, is an 
all or none proposition. It is either 
at rest or firing, that is, delivering a 
pulse. It has a certain threshold 
which must be exceeded if the neuron 
is to fire. The size of the excess has 
no effect on the delivered pulse. The 
firing period is followed by a refrac- 
tory period during which the neuron 
recuperates. To use a homey simile, 
its cycle is just like that of the flush 
toilet. 

The digital computer has two 
kinds of memory, permanent and 
temporary. The latter stores in- 
formation on a yes-no basis by pulses 
circulating in a closed loop, the 
pulses being regenerated once per 
round trip. In the human brain the 
permanent memory is made up of 
neuron groups whose thresholds 
have been altered by the stimuli re- 
ceived. There is also a circulating 
memory in which pulses circulate 
over long chains of neurons. These 
store what Wiener calls the “spe- 
cious present”. 

In general, the human brain cor- 
responds to a digital machine plus 
its instructions. The fact that there 
have been proposed logical machines 
to carry out logical operations, 
strengthens the parallelism. Wiener 
has some interesting things to say 
in this connection about the relation 
of human logic to psychology. This 
is quite plausible since all logic is 
limited by the capabilities of the 
mind. He further observes that ma- 
chines could be made to exhibit con- 
ditioned reflexes. As a matter of 
fact, since the publication of the 

84 



book such a machine has been built.* 

*"The Homeostat" by W. R. Ashby, Electronic 
Engineering, Dec. 1948. 

Briefly, it contains four identical 
servomotors, each with its own local 
feedback loop. The output of each 
servo acts as an input to each of the 
other three. Thus the machine is a 
rather complicated multiloop feed- 
back system. The amount of feed- 
back from one servo to another can 
be set manually. In general, the sys- 
tem goes wild for arbitrary feed- 
backs. However, it is possible to cut 
over to a condition where the feed- 
backs themselves are under the con- 
trol of the servos. That is, if the 
servos are in an unstable condition, 
a relay turns over to the servos the 
job of readjusting the feedbacks to 
suit their own convenience. The re- 
markable thing that happens then is 
that eventually all the servos settle 
down to equilibrium. If now one or 
more feedl)acks are reversed in sign, 
or a pair of shafts are rigidly 
coupled together, or if a number of 
other things are done, the servos 
always And new feedback settings for 
themselves that restore equilibrium. 
The machine always adjusts itself to 
its new environment ! This cer- 
tainly would be a conditioned reflex 
except for one thing, the absence of 
a memory. The lack of this makes 
the machine forget its past adjust- 
ments. This defect is not irremedi- 
able. Large scale machines of this 
sort would be capable of learning 
and even of original thought. 

How does the brain avoid the 
cruder sorts of blunders that could 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




arise from the malfunctioning of in- 
dividual cells ? Again, consideration 
of the computing machine sheds light 
on this problem. In modern ma- 
chines the problems solved are so 
complicated that perhaps as many as 
a billion operations may be required 
to get the answer. Despite the fact 
that electronic equipment is remark- 
ably reliable, the chance of failure is 
by no means negligible. ■ Accord- 
ingly, in some machines the calcula- 
tions are carried on in parallel on 
two distinct units. Were it not for 
the cost, three would be even better 
because in the case of disagreement, 
the acceptance of majority rule would 
permit the solution to go on. This 
is what happens in the brain. No 
important operation is assigned to a 
single neural mechanism. At a cer- 
tain level of the nervous system, an 
incoming message proceeds to the 
next level by more than one member 
of the general group of channels 
known as the intcrmincial pool. 

When psychopathological disor- 
ders occur, there is frequently no ob- 
servable damage to any specific tis- 
sue. It is true, however, that brain 
tumors, clots, and certain diseases 
are accompanied by mental disturb- 
ances. In Wiener’s opinion, the first 
type of mental disturbance is due to 
the circulating memory getting out 
of kilter. When this happens, the 
other communication channels are 
overloaded and the trouble symp- 
toms appear. 

The circulating memory is the 
storage of pulses by circulating them 



in long neuron chains. These pulses 
either die out in the course of time 
or pull in more and more neurons 
from the internuncial pool. The 
former is the normal case that occurs 
in stable feedback systems. In the 
latter case we have what are called 
anxiety neuroses. So many neurons 
are drawn into the process that not 
enough are left over to carry on the 
normal processes of thought. Since 
there is less going on in the brain, 
these cells are pulled in too, affecting 
the permanent memory. The simi- 
larity of this to what we have said 
about accidental disturbances in an 
unstable feedback system is obvious. 
Just as with the machine, this acci- 
dental reversal of stability builds up 
until the ordinary mental life is 
destroyed. 

When a normally stable machine 
becomes unstable, we can frequently 
make it snap out of its psychosis by 
stopping and clearing it or by kick- 
ing it, either with our foot or per- 
haps by. an electrical shock. If the 
worst comes to the worst, we can re- 
move the defective part. The human 
brain can not be completely cleared 
except by death. The nearest prac- 
tical scheme is to go to sleep. This 
is why problems look different to us 
after we have slept on them. Where 
deeper memories are affected, metra- 
zol or electrical shock is used or in 
an extreme case, surgery or mental 
therapy. 

Of all living organisms, man is the 
most subject to mental disorders. 
This is because he has the longest 



CYBERNETICS 



85 




neuron chains of any creature. It is 
also known that the long chains are 
associated with the so-called higher 
processes. It is a truism that the 
more elements there are in a chain, 
the greater is the likelihood of fail- 
ure. These facts suggest that the 
human system is inadequately 
equipped with long distance chan- 
nels. This gives rise to traffic prob- 
lems much like those encountered 
in automatic telephone exchanges. 
These function very well indeed just 
up to overload. In the human be- 
ing overloads occur because there 
may be more traffic than lines to 
handle them, or because certain chan- 
nels are taken out of service by dis- 
ease, or again because too many 
channels are carrying harmful traf- 
fic like pathological worries. 

This relative deficiency of long 
lines is due to the human brain being 
so large. As Wiener shows, the 
number of cells go up as the cube of 
the brain dimension while the con- 
nectors go up only as the square. 
Consequently, the larger the brain 
the greater the traffic density. Hence 
when overload occurs the processes 
involving the remote parts of the 
brain are the first to be affected. 
This is a well known fact. 

This shortage of long lines fur- 
nishes a very reasonable explanation 
of the speech disturbances that fre- 
quently occur when a left-handed 
child is forcibly trained to become 
right-handed. In a left-handed per- 
son the right brain-lobe is domi- 
nant, and hence it is the location of, 



the higher processes. When he uses 
his right hand the left lobe is ac- 
tivated. Hence messages must 
cross repeatedly from one lobe to the 
other. But this is precisely the re- 
gion where there are the fewest con- 
nectors. Hence there is a traffic jam 
and stuttering results. Science fic- 
tion ivriters designing mutants 
should take a hint and make their 
creatures have more connectors 
rather than larger brains. Appar- 
ently it is already too large for 
efficiency. 

An interesting example of an acci- 
dental upset of the stability of a 
feedback loop occurs in the condi- 
tion known as causalgia, meaning 
burning pain. It was first observed 
during the Civil War. Soldiers who 
received apparently trivial bullet 
wounds would complain of pain so 
excruciating that even a breath of 
air across the injured member was 
intolerable. The explanation was 
found only recently. Apparently 
the injury is to a nerve ending. The 
irritated nerve sends out a pulse 
which returns by complicated feed- 
back paths unimpaired in strength 
and triggers off a new pulse. As 
time goes on, more and more paths 
are included. If it goes on too long, 
not even a nerve operation will help. 
In some cases a cure was effected by 
injecting novocaine into the main 
feedback path. This prevented the 
neurons from repeating the incoming 
pulses and hence acted by opening 
up the feedback path. Even after 



86 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




the narcotic wore off, the trouble did 
not recur for exactly the same rea- 
son that a machine whose normal 
stability is upset may be restored to 
order by stopping it for a while. 

A closely allied case is the one 
where people who have lost a limb 
complain of pain in the missing 
member. There is a case on record 
where a man who lost his arm was 
troubled by not being able to un- 
clench the fist on the lost arm ! This 
was not a hallucination, merely the 
consequence of the injured nerve 
endings sending stimuli to that part 
of the visual cortex that happened 
to coincide with this pattern. When 
novocaine was injected he remarked 
that he could see his fingers slowly 
unfolding. 

Cybernetics has thrown a good 
deal of light on the psychology of 
perception— Gestalt psychology. It 
has gone quite a way in answering 
the question : why we are able to 
recognize familiar things and to 
pick out similarities. Closely allied 
to this field is the possibility of aids 
to injured or lost senses, such as de- 
vices for translating sight into sound 
and vice versa. Unfortunately, we 
lack the space to go into this phase 
of the subject. 

Another interesting subject is the 
view of society from the cybernetic 
standpoint. Wiener points out the 
lack of homeostatic or regulatory 
processes in society. He gives rea- 
sons why the chances of repairing 
this lack is not good. If you happen 



to be strongly conservative in your 
politics, you may disagree violently 
with certain of his views. How- 
ever that may be, you will still find 
them interesting. 

Of course, there are those among 
Wiener’s followers who do not agree 
that the study of society is beyond 
the scope of cybernetic methods. A 
number of papers on this phase were 
presented at a two day meeting of 
the New York Academy of Sciences 
in October 1946. Unfortunately, 
these particular papers were never 
published. However, a good deal of 
the other material presented has 
been published. The interested 
reader will find it worthwhile to 
read Vol. 50, pages 187-278 of the 
Annals of the Academy. 

A final word about the book. If 
you like to be stirred by bold new 
ideas, read it by all means. How- 
evet, unless you are particularly well 
polished in advanced mathematics, 
skip the mathematics given. De- 
spite Wiener’s protestations, the 
mathematical arguments used are 
not necessary for an understanding 
of what he has to say. The ideas are 
so well expressed by his words that 
they refute his contention as to the 
necessity of the matliematics. As a 
final bit of criticism ; If after you 
have read the book you wonder what 
the first three chapters have to do 
with the general theme, it may com- 
fort you to know that you are not 
alone in this feeling. 



THE END 



CYBERNETICS 



87 





THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 

BY L. SPRAGUE De CAMP 



Conclusion. Hasselborg s problem, in getting the lady back 
home, was that a whole world of people got in the way — 
somewhat lethally in the way! — at every opportunity. 

Illustrated by Rogers 



Synopsis 

Victor Hasselborg, an investigator 
of insurance frauds and a former op- 
erative of the Division of Investiga- 
tion of the Ministry of Justice of the 
World Federation, now practicing 
privately in London, is hired by a 
Syrian textile magnate, Yussuf Ba- 
truni, to track dozen and, if possible, 

88 



bring back his daughter, Julnar Ba- 
trimi, zvlio has disappeared from 
London. 

Hasselborg discovers that Julnar 
Batruni has eloped zvith Anthony 
Fallon, an adventurer and BBC 
radio announcer who left behind his 
lovely young wife, Alexandra Gashin 
Fallon, to run off to Pluto with this 
girl. In the course of his investiga- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




tion Hasselborg becomes much 
drazvn to Alexandra, hut, being a 
man of some principle, he keeps his 
feelings to himself. He even offers 
to try to bring back Alexandra’s er- 
rant spouse, though she is not sure 
she zvants him back. 

Bidding her good-by, Hasselborg 
takes a spaceship to Pluto, bringing 
with him a suitcase-full of the most 
advanced crime-detection apparatus. 
At Pluto he learns that the elopers 
have gone on to Krishna, a planet 
of one of the nearer stars zvhose 
dominant species is the most manlike 
of any known extraterrestrial life; 
except for green hair, antennaelike 
organs of smell, and pointed ears the 
Krishnas look superficially quite hu- 
man. Hasselborg goes on to Krishna, 
knowing that at the speed at which he 
is traveling the Fitzgerald effect 
makes several years of objective time 
seem like a few weeks aboard the 
ship. 

Arriving at Novorecife, the out- 
post on Krishna of the Viagens In- 
terplanetarias, Hasselborg is aston- 
ished to learn of an Interplanetary 
Council ruling that forbids bringing 
mechanical devices and inventions 
into Krishna for fear of the use to 
which the warlike and premcchani- , 
cal Krishnans might put them. Has- 
selborg must, then, leave his pistol 
and other apparatus at Novorecife, 
disguise himself as a Krishnan, and 
pursue his quarry as best he can by 
primitive methods. 

With Hasselborg has come the 
stocky, imperturbable Chuen Liao- 
dz, who claims to be an economic 



official of the Chinese Government, 
but whom Hasselborg suspects of be- 
ing a cop. At Novorecife Hassel- 
borg is taken in hand by Julio Gois, 
the assistant security-officer, a Bra- 
zilian like most of the Viagens per- 
sonnel, since Brazil is nozv the 
zuorld’s leading power and Brazilo- 
Portuguese is the language of the 
spaceways. Gois tells Hasselborg 
that Fallon and Julnar Batruni, zuho 
had come in on an earlier ship, took 
off for Rosid, the capital of the Daslit 
of Ruz, a feudal underling of the 
Dour — Emperor — of Gozashtand. 
After he has mastered the Gozash- 
tandou language and learned to man- 
age a sword and an aya-drawn 
buggy, Hasselborg sets out for 
Rosid, too. He takes with him a 
letter of introduction from Julio 
Gois to Djdm bad-Kone, Dasht of 
Ruz, presenting Hasselborg as Kavir 
bad-Ma’lmn, the distinguished artist. 

Or so Gois said. Suspicious, Has- 
selborg opens the letter in his inn in 
Rosid, finding that actually Gois has 
inexplicably denounced him to the 
dasht as a spy from the neighboring 
republic of Mikardand. Hard 
pressed to know what to do, Hassel- 
borg alters the letter to make it 
harmless, forges a new set of seals, 
and presents it to the dasht as origi- 
nally planned. The dasht cordially 
zvelcomes Hasselborg to his court 
and invites him on a hunt the follozv- 
ing day after a yeki, a large carnivore 
of the planet. Hasselborg goes, 
i(.sing his aya as a riding-animal, and 
after some misadventures helps to 
capture the beast. He learns that 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



89 




the dasht plans to use the yeki in 
Roman-style public games with 
which the Ruznia celebrate astrologi- 
cal events. 

Shortly after the hunt, the men of 
the dasht arrest Hasselborg for trea- 
son and throw him in jail. As he 
presently learns, the dasht has dis- 
covered his tampering with the letter 
of introduction. Hasselborg is con- 
demned to be fed at the next celebra- 
tion to the yeki he helped catch. 

However, using the letter of credit 
which the rich Batruni sent him off 
with, Hasselborg bribes the jailer, 
Yeshram, to save him. First Yesh- 
ram has the yeki so overfed just be- 
fore the game that it refuses to 
molest its intended prey in the arena. 
Then Yeshram stages a jail-delivery. 
Hasselborg is spirited out of the city 
at night and is given back his car- 
riage and other possessioits. 

He drives hard all night and all 
the following day towards Hershid, 
the capital of Gozashtand. Perhaps 
there he can pick up some trace of 
Fallon and Miss Batruni; his in- 
quiries so far have got him nowhere. 

In the evening he stumbles onto a 
caravan which is being attacked by 
a band of mounted robbers. Since 
he still has a saddle among his gear, 
he impulsively unhitches his aya, 
saddles it, and gallops up to the cara- 
van to rescue a beautiful girl whom 
he sees standing in the rearmost 
wagon. After some brisk fighting 
he flees with the robbers after him. 
By riding up into the wooded 
Kodum Hills he finally gives them 
the slip in the darkness. 

90 



He then discovers that the girl, 
whom he had seen at Djdm’s court, 
is Fouri bab-Vasid, the niece of 
Haste bad-Labbade. Haste is the 
high priest of the state religion of 
Gozashtand, a kind of glorified 
astrology. Fouri was visiting a 
friend at Rosid until the unwelcome 
attentions of the dasht decided her 
to return home. 

VIII. 

An hour later he said : “I’m afraid 
we’re lost good and proper.” 

“What do we then? Stay for the 
dawn ?” 

“We could, of course, though I 
don’t like the idea with these high- 
jackers hanging around.” After 
further thought he added : “All we 
need to make things perfect is to 
be treed by a yeki.” . 

As if in answer, a low roar came 
across the mountains. Fouri threw 
her arms around his neck. “I fear !” 

“There, there.” He patted her 
back. “It’s many hoda away.” 
Although he could have stood in 
that agreeable position all night, they 
had more urgent things to think of. 
“If I could only find that long ridge 
again, we could walk right down 
the top of it— I know, you hold 
Avvau.” No more letting his mount 
run loose for him ! 

He took off his sword belt, found 
a tree with low branches, and 
climbed. Wliile it was hard going, 
especially since the trunk was 
smooth and the branches widely 
spaced, he nevertheless managed to 

ASTOUNDING S C I E N CE- FI CTI O N 




raise himself eight or ten meters 
above the ground. 

There were still only hills dotted 
with patches of woods and isolated 
trees, fitfully moonlit. Was that 
the missing spur ? Couldn’t be sure— 
Then he snapped his attention to 
one thing— a little spark of night, 
far off, like a fifth-magnitude star. 
He strained his eyes, then remem- 
bered to look just to one side of it. 
Yes, there it was all right, twink- 
ling like a star on a cold Earth night. 
That meant, probably, a fire. The 
robbers ? 

He studied as much as he could 
see of the terrain, noted the posi- 
tion of the moon, and descended. 
“If we go over that way, we may 
run into trouble. On the other hand 
if they’re sitting around the fire 
they probably won’t see us if we’re 
careful, and we should be able to find 
our road at least.’’ 

“Whatever my hero says.” 
Hasselborg’s eyebrows went up 
with a jerk. So, he was a hero now ? 
He set out again briskly, stopping 
from time to time to verify his di- 
rection. At the end of an hour’s 
walk he could see the spot of light 
from ground level. 

“We’ll have to be very quiet,” he 
whispered. “At least I know where 
I am now. Come on.” 

He began a big circle to the left of 
the fire, spiraling gradually closer 
to it. After another quarter-hour he 
halted at the top of a steep slope. 

“Here’s the road,” he said. “The 
thing seems to go right towards our 
friends.” 



The fire was now out of sight. As 
they skidded down the slope and 
started along the road, Hasselborg 
recognized the place as the slope 
up which he was walking the aya that 
afternoon when the idea of painting a 
sunset came to him. He dropped 
Fouri’s hand and held his sword 
to keep it from clanking. 

“Here’s the buggy,” he breathed. 

He poked about it and found no 
sign of its having been tampered 
with. Up ahead, though the fire 
itself was invisible, he could see the 
light from it on trees over the crest 
of the rise. 

“Hold the aya a minute,” he said. 

He left Fouri and walked slowly 
up the slope, crouching as he neared 
the top lest he blunder into the 
gang unawares. For the last few 
feet he lowered himself to hands 
and knees, then peered cautiously 
over. 

Seven robbers stood or squatted 
about the fire, which had been built 
alongside the road. Two, crudely 
bandaged, sprawled in the dirt; the 
others ate in hasty gulps. Hassel- 
borg could hear the snorts of their 
animals tethered nearby and the 
words : 

“Why in the name of the stars 
didn’t you—” 

“Fool, how knew I you’d run off 
after—” 

“You sejt! The caravan was no 
matter ; we were being paid for the 
girl. All should have—” 

“Where’s Gherdavan ?” 

“A fine thing— four slain, two hurt, 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



91 




one missing, and not a kard to 
show ! The dasht can keep his gold 
for all-” 

‘‘Why slew yon not the folk of 
the caravan ? Then they’d not have 
taken courage and—” 

“Ransoms, idiot—” 

. . hasten, lest the soldiery find 
us—” 

. the dasht promised—” 
“Ghuvo'i the dasht ! I think of the 
dour. ’Tis nigh his bourne—” 

Hasselborg crept back and whis- 
pered : “If we hitch up quietly we 
can drive right through them. Are 
you game to try? I don’t think 
they’ll follow us very far into the 
dour’s dominions.” 

“Whatever you say.” 

They unsaddled the aya, jumping 
fearfully at every click of a buckle. 
Then they put its harness back on it, 
moving snail-slowly to avoid noise. 

“Now,” said Hasselborg when 
they had hitched Avvau to the car- 
riage, “can you drive?” 

“Well enough.” 

“All right, take the reins. To get 
speed up fast I’ll have to run along- 
side and then swing aboard. When 
I say ‘go’, use the whip for all it’s 
worth. Ready? Go!” 

He reached in and snapped off 
the brake as the whip whistled and 
cracked. The carriage shuddered, 
the wheels crunched, and dirt flew 
from the six hoofs of the outraged 
animal. Hasselborg, walking along- 
side with one hand on the carriage- 
body, broke into a trot, then into a 
run, and then swung aboard. 

“Give him the business I” he said. 



Hanging onto the dashboard with 
his left hand, he drew his sword with 
his right and leaned out. 

As they topped the rise into the 
firelight they picked up speed, until 
they were hurtling at the group of 
men by the fire. 

The minute they appeared, some 
of the robbers looked around at the 
noise. These jumped to their feet 
and reached for weapons as the 
vehicle bore down upon them. One 
held up a hand like a traffic co]:> and 
shouted, then leaped for dear life. 
Another stepped forward with a 
sword. Hasselborg thrust at him. 
His stroke was parried with a clang, 
and then they were through and 
thundering into the dark. 

“They don’t seem to be coming 
after us,” said Hasselborg, leaning 
out of the buggy and looking to the 
rear. “I guess they were as badly 
scared as we were, and didn’t know 
their chosen victim was in this rig.” 

“What mean you, chosen vic- 
tim?” 

Hasselborg told her what he had 
overheard. 

“That foul unha !” she cried. “Not 
satisfied with forcing me to flee his 
court, Djam hires cutthroats to kid- 
nap me ! I’ll make him pay for this, 
the way Queen Nirizi made the 
jeweler pay for what he did.” 

Although Hasselborg would like to 
have known what drastic fate Queen 
Nirizi inflicted upon the jeweler, he 
had other things to occupy him at the 
moment. They passed the place 
where the caravan had been attacked. 



92 



ASTOUNDING S C I E N C E- F I CTIO N 




Aside from a brief glimpse of the 
ruins of the bishtar cart and a couple 
of unburied bodies, nothing re- 
mained. 

Hasselborg said : “I think I see 
what happened. The bandits thought 
they had everything under control, 
and so they did until a couple of 
them tore away after that fellow w'ho 
rode off on his aya, and some more 
came after us, which left only a 
couple guarding the prisoners. See- 
ing which, the prisoners grabbed up 
the weapons they’d just laid down 
and smote the robbers hip and thigh. 
When the other came back after 
hunting for us, the caravan was miles 
away, and they didn’t dare follow it 
out of D jam’s territory, since they’d 
bought their protection from him.” 
“Then my people may still live ! 
We should catch them ere they reach 
Hershid, think you not?” 

“Don’t know'; I’d have to scale it 
off on the map, and I don’t know 
how accurate that is.” 

“Well then, will you take over the 
driving now?” 

“In a minute.” Hasselborg gave 
another look to the rear. The rob- 
bers’ fire slid out of sight. A couple 
of miles more and he said_: “Let’s 
stop long enough to light the lan- 
terns. This tearing around in the 
dark d la Ben Hur gives me the 
bleeps.” 

“is that an expression in your na- 
tive tongue ? Surely my lord showed 
courage enough on that ride through 
the hills. I could have done nought 
without you, O man of might.” 

“Oh, I’m not as hot as all that,” he 



said, fumbling with the lanterns and 
glad that she could not see his look 
of embarrassment. “In fact the whole 
idea—” He was about to say that 
the whole idea of rescuing her had 
been a piece of irrational folly, which 
he’d never have undertaken if he had 
stopped to think, but judged such a 
remark tactless. “There, now at 
least w'e shan’t miss a turn and smash 
up.” 

He took up the reins again. Since 
her costume w'as inadequate pro- 
tection against the coolth of the long 
Krishnan night, he wrapped his 
cloak around both of them. She 
snuggled up to him, tickled his face 
W'ith her antennae, and presently 
kissed the angle of his jaw. 

So, sex was raising its beautiful 
head? How nice that the Krish- 
nans had adopted this Earthly prac- 
tice ! And how nice that one could 
take one’s eyes off the road and trust 
one’s steed to find the way ! 0 quente 
cachorro! 

The sun w^as well up Ijefore Fouri 
aw’oke and stretched. “Where are 
w^e?” she asked. 

“Somewhere on the road to 
Hershid.” 

“I know that, man of little wit! 
But where ?” 

“I can only guess that we’ll arrive 
some time this afternoon.” 

“Well then, stop at the nearest 
farmhouse. I would eat.” 

This sharp, imperious tone was 
something new. He thought, some 
of the hero-worship must have al- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



93 




ready worn of¥, and gave her a 
silent, wooden look. 

Thereupon she was all contrition : 
“Oh, did I wound my hero ? I 
crawl! I abase myself! A foul- 
tempered and selfish witch am I !” 
She seized his hand and began kiss- 
ing it. “You break my liver ! Bear 
unkindness from you I cannot ! Say 
I’m forgiven, or I throw myself from 
your carriage to my doom !” 

“That’s O.K., Lady Fouri,” he 
said, wishing she wouldn’t be so 
theatrical about it. Life was compli- 
cated enough without superfluous 
histrionics. He patted her and kissed 
her and cheered her up, while his 
mind ran far ahead, thinking of plans 
for his arrival in Hershid. 

Presently she said : “We must be 
well into the dour’s territory. Passed 
we not his bourne in the night?’’ 
“You mean that place with a gate 
across the road and a sentry house? 
You were asleep.’’ 

“How about the sentries? Did 
they admit you?’’ 

“Matter of fact they were asleep 
too, so I just got out and opened the 
gate myself. Seemed a shame to 
wake the poor guys.” 

They stopped at a hamlet for a 
meal, during w'hich Hasselborg 
asked : “What’s a good respectable 
inn in Hershid? I landed in some 
Thieves’ Rest in Rosid and don’t 
care to repeat the mistake.” 

“Oh, but Kavir, you shall stay at 
no inn ! What think you of me ? 
Chambers of the best in my uncle’s 
palace shall be yours, where I can 
see you every day !” 



Although the last item made it 
plain that more than simple grati- 
tude was involved in this offer, Has- 
selborg suppressed a smile as he pro- 
tested; “I couldn’t accept such 
unearned hospitality ! After all I’m 
a mere nobody, not even a knight, 
and ’ your uncle doesn’t know me 
from Ad . . . from Qarar.” 

“Who Ad may be I know not, but 
accept you he shall; he’d welcome 
his niece’s rescuer in any event, and 
should he notT’d make him wash he’d 
never been hatched.” 

He didn’t doubt that she could, 
too. “Well ... if you insist—” 

She did, of course, which fact 
pleased Hasselborg mightily, despite 
its threat of future complications, be- 
cause it gave him a free and perhaps 
luxurious lodging right in the midst 
of things. While, despite his fear 
of germs, he could cheerfully put up 
with the worst in the w'ay of accom- 
modations when he had to, he still 
enjoyed the best when he could get 
it. 

The rest of the journey proved un- 
eventful. They failed to overhaul 
the caravan, which must have been 
making good time to get away from 
the perils of the Kodum Hills. 

Hershid, as befitted the capital of 
an empire, was a larger and more 
splendid city than Rosid. As ex- 
pected, they were halted at the gate. 
However, the guards recognized 
Fouri before she had said two words, 
jumped to present arms with their 
halberds, and waved the carriage 
through. 



94 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Fouri guided Hasselborg through 
the city until they stopped at the 
gates of a palace. The gates were 
adorned with geometrical gimmicks 
that Hasselborg recognized as Krish- 
nan astrological symbols. 

The inevitable gatekeeper stepped 
out, cried: “Mistress Fouri!” and 
ran across the court shouting. A 
whole swarm of people thereupon 
erupted out of the palace and 
crowded around the carriage, all try- 
ing to kiss Fouri’s hands at once. 

Then a tall Krishnan in a long 
blue robe appeared and the crowd 
opened to let him through. He and 
Fouri embraced. The latter said : 
“Uncle, this is my rescuer, the gal- 
lant Master Kavir— ” 

Hasselborg had his hand shaken— 
another borrowed Earth custom— 
and tried to follow the conversation 
with everybody talking at once : 
“What happened?” “Sandii, run to 
the barracks and tell the commander 
not to send out that squadron—” 
“Aye, the caravan arrived but a few 
minutes past with their tale of woe—” 
“Whatever befell your ladyship ? 
You look as if you’d been trampled 
by wild ayas I” 

An exaggeration, even though 
Fouri’s flimsy costume did look beat- 
up as a result of her ride and hike 
through the Kodum Hills in the 
dark. As he was led to his room, it 
occurred to Hasselborg that if any- 
one needed valet service it was him- 
self. He could see that his suit was 
torn and mud-splattered, and could 
feel the whiskers sprouting on his 
chin and the weal where a branch had 



lashed him across the face on that 
wild ride into the hills. He’d have 
to shave soon or it would be obvi- 
ous that his bristly beard was red- 
dish-brown instead of Krishnan 
green, unless he emulated the gent 
who 

“. . . was thinking of a plan 
To dye one’s whiskers green, 

And always use so large a fan 
That they could not be seen.” 

All that was taken care of by 
Haste’s household, which ran with 
un-Krishnan efficiency. An hour 
later he was shaved, bathed, per- 
fumed-something he had to endure 
for the sake of sweet verisimilitude— 
and his clean suit had been laid out 
for him. After a short nap he 
dressed and went down to meet his 
host, whom he found awaiting him 
with what appeared to be ,a cocktail 
shaker. 

Haste bad-Labbade was unusual 
among Krishnans in having lost most 
of his hair and all tlie color from the 
rest, which was silky white. His 
wrinkled parchmentlike features were 
also sharper than those of most of 
the race. In fact, had it not been for 
the organs of smell sprouting from 
between his brows he might have 
passed for an Earthman. 

“My son,” said Haste, pouring, 
“there’s little I can say to impress 
upon you my gratitude, save this : 
Eeel free to call upon me at any time 
for aught I can do for you.” 

“Thank you, your reverence,” said 
Hasselborg, warily eying bis drink. 
However, so skillfully had it been 
mixed that the taste of alcohol could 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



95 




hardly be detected, and he got it 
down without gagging. He reminded 
himself that as a habitual nondrinker 
he’d have to be careful and count his 
drinks, stretching them out as long 
as possible. 

When Fouri joined them. Haste 
said : “Tell me all about this extraor- 
dinary feat of rescue.” 

When they had told, Fouri asked 
her uncle : “Think you the dour will 
finally take action against Djam on 
your representation ?” 

Haste smiled thinly. “I know not. 
You know how little weight I have 
with the dour these days.” 

“ ’Tis only because you lack cour- 
age to face down the old aqebat !” she 
snapped. “I could do better with 
him myself.” 

“Why, so you could, the reason be- 
ing he likes you, looking upon j^ou as 
a sort of daughter, while he holds me 
in despite.” 

“No matter of liking at all; but 
that he’s a hard man and a clever 
one, who’s gained his ends by strug- 
gle, and expects those about him to 
be equally hard and clever. Best 
him and he’ll respect you ; yield to 
him, as you’re done, and he’ll tram- 
ple you into the mire. Would that I 
were a man !” 

Hasselborg felt a suppressed ten- 
sion between these two, too strong to 
be accounted for by a simple differ- 
ence of opinion on how to manage 
the king. This might bear looking 
into. He said : “I . . . uh . . . per- 
haps you could explain this to me, 
your reverence? Fve never been in 



Hershid, and so don’t know the local 
situation.” 

Haste gave him a keen look. “My 
niece is no dissembler; were she on 
trial for her life she’d even so tell the 
judge what she thought of him, l>e it 
never so libelous.” 

“How about the differences be- 
tween you and the dour ?” 

“ ’Tis a long tale, my son, going 
hack many years and touching upon 
the very well-springs of men’s ac- 
tions. I know not how they think in 
your land, but here in Gozashtand 
men have been of several minds as to 
why events follow the course they do. 

“The old belief had it, you see, that 
all was due to the will of the gods. 
However, with the growth of knowl- 
edge that belief seemed insufficient 
for divers causes, such as the ques- 
tion of why the gods seemed to make 
such a mess of human affairs, or why 
they should interest themselves in us 
mortals at all. In fact some blas- 
phemers were heard to say that the 
gods existed not, though these were 
soon suppressed. 

“Then about three, hundred years 
past, our theologians proved to their 
satisfaction that the gods were 
neither a crew of lustful brawling 
barbarians reveling on the heights of 
Mount Meshaq, as thought our sim- 
ple ancestors, nor yet a set of im- 
palpable abstractions, the ‘spirit of 
love’ and the like, which none ever 
understood. Instead, they were in 
truth the luminaries of heaven : the 
sun, the moons, the planets, and the 
stars, which as they spun about our 
world sent down their occult influ- 



96 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




ences singly and in combination and 
so controlled the fortunes of men. 
You’ll recall ’twas about this time 
that the roundness of the world was 
discovered. 

“So, thought we, we had at last the 
true scientific religion which should 
perform the proper offices of religion 
—to explain man and the universe, to 
predict the future, to comfort men 
in affliction, and to inculcate sound 
morals in the minds of the young. 
And so it seemed ; the faith was made 
official in Gozashtand and its neigh- 
boring nations, and any deviation 
therefrom was condignly punished. 
Later, if you like. I’ll show you one 
of the old cells in my own cellar, 
where heretics were kept for ques- 
tioning. Now we can do nothing of 
the kind, though the dour l^etimes 
uses the accusation of heresy to dis- 
pose of politically inconvenient 
persons. 

“Then what happened ? The Ert- 
suma landed in their spaceships at 
the place that is now Novorecife, 
bringing news of other suns and 
other worlds revolving about them, 
for they told us for the first time that 
our world went around the sun and 
not vice versa. The planet Qond- 
yorr’’— he meant Vishnu— “for in- 
stance, far from being the god of 
war, was but another world like our 
own, save warmer, with creatures 
on it not wholly unlike those of this 
world. 

“So you see, good Master Kavir, 
the result has been a falling-away 
from the true faith. The Church 
may no longer . punish her foes di- 




TIIE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



97 




rectly, but must sit in silence while a 
host of minor cults, even some 
brought in by the Ertsuma, spreads 
over the land like a murrain, sapping 
our spiritual strength and pre-empt- 
ing our income. And as our power 
declines that of the dour waxes, 
wherefore relations are less cordial 
than once they were.” 

A little astonished by such 
frankness, Hasselborg asked : “Your 
reverence, what’s your opinion about 
the gods, the planets, and so on?” 
Haste smiled faintly again, “As 
head of the Church, my official views 
are, of course, in accord with those 
adopted at the Council of Mishe 
forty-six years past. Privately, 
though I prefer that this be not re- 
peated, I’m somewhat puzzled my- 
self. Let’s to dinner.’’ 

Fouri had put on another of her 
dazzling variety of personalities— 
grave and formal. She said : “Kavir’s 
in Hershid to get commissions for 
painting portraits. Could we not 
put him in the way of some business ? 
’Twere the least recompense for his 
heroism.” 

“To be sure we could. Let me 
think— I’d order one myself, had I 
not had one done within the year; 
I’ll still do so if all else fails. As for 
the court, I know not quite how . . . 
my star is not in its dominant sector 
at the moment, Imt— ” 

“Oh, come, uncle ! Why try you 
not the dour himself?” 

“Tlie dour, Fouri ? But you know 
how blows the wind in that quar- 
ter—” 

“Rouse yourself, you old man of 



jelly!” she cried suddenly, the grave 
manner gone. “Always excuses. 
The privy council meets on the mor- 
row, does it not?” 

“To be sure, my child, but—” 

“No buts ! Take Master Kavir 
with you and present him to His 
Awesomeness as the world’s greatest 
portraitist. Unless,” she added omi- 
nously, “you prefer to try conten- 
tions with your loving niece ?” 

“Dear stars, no; I’ll take him! 
Assuming he’ll come, that is. You’re 
for this scheme, my son ?” 

“Sure,” said Hasselborg, adding a 
murmur of inexpressible thanks. 

“I feared as much,” said Haste. 

Later, over the cigars, Hasselborg 
brought up another matter: “Your 
reverence, I’m on the lookout for a 
certain young man who bought a por- 
trait from me and then decamped 
without paying. He had a girl with 
him.” 

“Yes?” 

“I wondered if there were any 
place in Hershid where they’d know 
whether he passed through here ?” 
“Why, let me think— the dour has 
a good spy service, though I doubt 
they’d keep track of every traveler 
who passes this way, since Hershid 
is after all the crossroad of the em- 
pire. What were these runaways 
like?” 

“Like this,” said Hasselborg, pro- 
ducing the sketches. 

Haste frowned at them, then began 
to laugh. “How much did he owe 
you ?” 

“Five hundred karda.” 



98 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Haste rang a bell, and when a si- 
lent young man in a plain blue 
priestly robe answered, he said : 
“Draw five hundred karda from my 
privy hoard and give them to Master 
Kavir.” 

“Stars preserve me!” said Has- 
selhorg. “I didn’t mean to collect it 
from your reverence—” 

“All’s well, my son, and count not 
the teeth of a gift shomal, as Qarar 
did in his dealings with the Witch of 
the Va’andao Sea. First, ’tis but a 
mean recompense for your rescue of 
my niece ; and second, time which 
brings all things will bring me the 
chance to collect the debt from this 
your debtor.” 

“You know him?” 

“But slightly.” 

“Who is he?”j 

“Can it be that you’re yet so new 
to these parts? Why, unless I’m 
vastly mistaken, this is the true ten 
days’ wonder, the paragon of the po- 
litical virtues, the new Dour of 
Zamba, and the other’s his douri.” 
“The King of Zamba?” said Has- 
selborg. “Since when? And what’s 
Zamba ?” 

At this point the young priest 
glided back into the room with a 
heavy canvas sack which he set 
down with a clink beside Hassel- 
borg. 

Haste said: “Fetch a map of 
Gozashtand and adjacent lands, 
Ghaddal. Master Kavir, for a trav- 
eled man, your knowledge is most . . . 
shall I say . . . spotty? Whence 
came you originally?” 



“Malayer in the far South,” said 
Hasselborg, 

“That may be. Know, then, that 
Zamba is an island in the Sadabao 
Sea, lying just -off the end of the 
Harquain peninsula, which forms 
the eastern extremity of Gozashtand. 
For years have the Zambava been 
plagued with seditions and upris- 
ings, party against party and class 
against class. Finally the commons 
overthrew the aristocracy altogether 
and slew all those who did not es- 
cape. Thereupon, having no more 
common foe, the commons fell into 
factions with battles and murders, 
leader against leader. 

“The upshot was that a few tqn- 
nights ago your friend Antane . . . 
his name, is it not? . . . landed upon 
the isle with a gang of bullies whom 
he’d collected from the stars know 
whence, and in a few days had made 
himself master of all. Oh, ’twas 
neatly done, and he’s gone on to 
effect many changes. For instance, 
you see, he’s built a new aristocracy 
of leaders of the commons— those 
who came over to his side, that is— 
with all the titles and trappings of 
the old. However, the titles but 
cover the official posts of his little 
kingdom, are not hereditary, and 
are withdrawn the instant the in- 
cumbent fails to give satisfaction. 
No more young noblemen wallowing 
in the sin of idleness on Zamba I” 

Maybe Fallon had been reading a 
life of Napoleon, thought Hassel- 
borg, or maybe in that social situa- 
tion things just broke that way. Al- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



AST-5K 



99 




though he would have liked to hear 
more about King Anthony, Haste 
seemed disinclined to discuss the 
subject further; the priest preferred 
to talk about large -generalities like 
progress versus stability, or free-will 
versus predestination. 

“For look you,” he said, “there 
be those who pass rumors to the 
effect that King Antane’s no true 
man at all, but an Ertsu in disguise. 
Not that it would matter greatly to 
me, since for years I’ve been tell- 
ing my flock that ’tis wrong to 
judge people on a basis of their race 
rather than of their individual merits. 
I’m sure, however, that Antane’s no 
Earthman, for they believe, most of 
them, in the curious doctrine of 
ecjhality for all men, while our young 
paragon has set up no such system 
in his island kingdom. Now, you 
were among the Ertsuma during 
your stay at Novorecife, my son; 
enlighten an old man on these mat- 
ters. What is this doctrine of 
equality, and do all Earthmen indeed 
adhere to it?” 

“As a matter of fact,” Hasselborg 
began, and would have launched into 
a brilliant ten-minute speech on the 
subject when it occurred to him that 
a Krishnan painter would hardly 
know that much about Earth’s politi- 
cal theory. Was the old boy trying 
to trap him? He cautiously quali- 
fied his reply; “I don’t know about 
these things from first-hand knowl- 
edge, your reverence; all I know is 
what I heard my Ertso friends say- 
ing in the course of conversation. As 
I get it, this theory is now the domi- 

100 



nant one among Earthmen, though 
it has not always been and may not 
always be. Moreover it doesn’t 
mean literal equality of individuals, 
but a legal equality, or equality in 
matters of law— rights, obligations, 
and so on. 

“They told me there were two 
great difficulties in building a politi- 
cal system on such a basis— first that 
people aren’t biologically equal, but 
individuals differ widely in ability; 
second, that you have to have some 
sort of political organization to run 
the society except among the most 
primitive groups, and those in power 
have a natural tendency to try to 
alter the setup to make themselves 
legally superior to the governed. 
They all do it, whether they call 
themselves counts, capitalists, or 
commissars—” 

As they fenced with ideas, Has- 
selborg thought that Haste showed 
flashes of a rather surprising knowl- 
edge of Earth institutions. 

Fouri maintained her gravity all 
evening, through supper, until they 
were saying good night. She gave 
Hasselborg her hand to kiss, glanced 
at Haste’s retreating back, leaned 
forward, and whispered : “Are you 
married, my hero?” 

Hasselborg raised his eyebrows. 
“No.” 

“Excellent !” She gave him a 
swift kiss and went. 

Oh-oh, thought Hasselborg, you 
don’t need X-ray eyes to see what 
she’s leading up to ! Now that he' 
knew where Fallon was, he’d better 
get away from Hershid quickly. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Could he sneak out that very night 
on the pretext that he liked to take 
buggy rides in the moonlight? No; 
in the first place that wouldn’t get 
him to Zamba ; the map showed the 
rocky Harquain peninsula as road- 
less. You had to take shjp from 
Mad j bur. 

Moreover, did he want to go to 
Zamba so precipitately? If he sim- 
ply walked in on J ulnar to argue that 
she should return to her papa, Fal- 
lon might have him liquidated out 
of hand. Maybe he’d better hang 
around Hershid for a few days de- 
spite the matrimonial menace of the 
fair Fouri, and try to work out an 
angle. 

Hasselborg was surprised when 
Haste presented him to the dour; 
from Fouri’s remarks he’d been led 
to expect something physically im- 
pressive, like the Dasht of Ruz. In- 
stead, King Eqrar bad-Oavitar re- 
minded Hasselborg of nothing so 
much as an Earth mouse. 

“Yes, yes, }'es,” squeaked the 
mighty monarch quickly, offering 
his small hand to be kissed. “I’ve 
often thought of the same thing. A 
portrait. Hm-m-m. Hm-m-m. A 
fine idea. An excellent suggestion. 
Glad am I that you brought this 
wight around. Haste. I’ll wager 
that niece of yours put you up to it ; 
she knows how to get aroqjjd the old 
man, ha. Knew you as much, you’d 
be a power in the land. Master 
Kayi^, how many sittings would you 
require ?” 



“Perhaps a dozen, your awesome- 
ness.” 

“Right, right, right. We’lf have 
the first this afternoon. An hour 
before dinner. West wing of the 
palace. The flunkies will pass you 
in and show you where. Bring all 
your gear. All of it. Nought vexes 
me more than an expert who comes 
to perform some office for one and 
then has to return home for more 
tools. Mind you, now.” 

“Yessir,” said Hasselborg. Eqrar 
was evidently one of those who be- 
lieved that “What I tell you three 
times is true.” 

“Good, good. And it is my com- 
mand that you leave not the city of 
Hershid until the portrait be com- 
pleted. A busy king am I, and I 
shall have to fit the sittings into my 
schedules as best I can. You have 
my leave to go.” 

Hasselborg, outwardly obsequi- 
ous, swore under his breath. Now 
he was stuck in Hershid for the gods 
knew how long, especially if the dour 
was given to canceling appointments. 
While he might run away in defiance 
of the dour, he might also be caught 
and dragged back before he reached 
the border. At best he’d land in this 
nervous but powerful king’s black 
book. 

When he got back to Haste’s pal- 
ace he asked Fouri ; “How do you 
get to Mad j bur?” 

“Depart you so soon?” she cried, 
her voice rising in alarm. 

“Not yet ; the king says no. Still, 
I’d like to know.” 

“Then you might drive your car- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



101 




riage— there’s a good road from the 
south gate— or you might take the 
railroad.” 

“Railroad?” 

“Of course! Knew you not that 
Hershid’s on the end of the line to 
Madjhur and on down the coast to 
Djazmurian ?” 

This I must see, thought Hassel- 
borg, forbearing to ask more ques- 
tions for fear of revealing ignorance. 
“Like a ride before lunch?” 

She would, of course, and showed 
him the way to the terminal outside 
the wall on the south side of the 
city. The rails were about a meter 
apart, the cars little four-wheeled af- 
fairs with bodies like those of car- 
riages, and the locomotives bishtars. 
A couple of the beasts were pushing 
and pulling cars around the yard 
under the guidance of mahouts who 
sat on their necks and blew little 
trumpets to warn of their approach. 
Fouri said : 

“Alack, my hero, you’re too late 
to see the daily train for Qadr pull 
out, and that from Qadr comes not 
in till around sunset.” 

“Where’s Qadr?” 

“A suburb of Madjbur, on this 
side of the Pichide. No through 
train to Djazmurian, you see, be- 
cause the river’s too wide to be 
bridged ; one must detrain at Qadr 
aiKl cross the river by boat ere con- 
tinuing on.” 

“Thanks.” 

After they had watched for a 
while she continued : “I can see 
we’re truly soul mates, Kavir, for 
I, too, have always loved to hang 

102 



on the fence of the railroad yard 
and watch the trains made up.” 

Hasselborg shuddered a little 
mentally, as though he had cut him- 
self on a dirty knife with no dis- 
infectant available. 

She went on : “If you’re really set 
on'going to Madjbur— I can wheedle 
aught I wish from the dour. Should 
I, for example, tell him that my 
affianced husband wished to travel, 
I know I could persuade him—” 

Hasselborg changed the subject 
by asking about Zamba and its new 
ruler, though Fouri could add but 
little to what he already knew. 

The king proved a difficult por- 
trait subject, always fidgeting and 
scratching and wiping his pointed 
nose on his sleeve. To make mat- 
ters worse, characters kept coming 
in to whisper in his ear or to pre- 
sent papers for liim to sign. All this 
distraction reduced Hasselborg, who 
had little enough confidence in his 
ability as a painter, to a state bor- 
dering on frantic despair. He com- 
plained : 

“If your awesomeness would only 
hold that pose for five minutes on 
end—” 

“What mean you, painter?” 
yelped the king. “You scoundrel, 
you criticize me? I’ve held this pose 
without moving the breadth of a hair 
for the better part of an hour, and 
you dare say I’ve not? Get out! 
Why did I ever let you begin this 
thi'fig? Begone! No, no, no, I 
meant it not. Come back and fall to 
work. Only let it be understood, no 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




more irreverent criticisms ! I’m a 
very busy man, and if I work not on 
my royal business every minute, I 
neyer get it fulfilled. You’re a good 
and faithful fellow. Fall to, waste 
no time, stand not gaping, get to 
work !” 

Hasselborg sighed and stoically 
resumed his sketching. Then an- 
other man came in, this time omitting 
to whisper. The newcomer cried : 
“May it please your awesomeness, 
the Dasht of Ruz has arrived unan- 
nounced, with fifty men-at-arms ! 
He seeks an escaped prisoner who 
he thinks has fled to your court !” 

IX. 

After sitting with his mouth open 
for a few seconds, the king jumped 
up with a yell. “That blundering 
fool ! ’Tis just like him to descend 
upon me without an hour’s warn- 
ing! No permission, no invitation, 
no request, no nought— O/ze/” He 
looked keenly at Hasselborg, who 
had given up trying to make a sketch 
for the time being. “You, master 
painter, arrive one morning with a 
fine story of rescuing Haste’s niece 
from robbers in D jam’s demesne. 
Then at the close of that selfsame 
day comes Djam himself hot on the 
trail of an alleged fugitive. A singu- 
lar coincidence, would you not say ?” 
“Yes, your awesomeness.” 

“Well, show him in, show him 
in ! W e’ll soon get to the bottom of 
this coil.” The king paced up and 
down. “I doubt not that the rescue 
took place even as stated, for my men 



questioned the survivors of that un- 
lucky caravan at length. Still there’s 
a mystery here; there’s a mystery; 
there’s a myst— Ah, my good vas- 
sal Djam !” 

The Dasht of Ruz strode into the 
room, made the barest pretense of 
dropping to one knee in front of the 
king, and then went for Hasselborg 
with a roar, pulling at his sword. 
“You sejt! I’ll show you to bribe 
your way out of my jail!” 

Flasselborg, who was getting a lit- 
tle tired of hairbreadth escapes, 
looked around frantically for a 
weapon, since he had been required 
to check his sword before being 
closeted with the king. 

Eqrar, however, took care of that. 
Placing one of the big rings on his 
fingers in his mouth, he blew a high, 
piercing whistle. Instantly a pair of 
inconspicuous little doors in the wall 
flew open, and out of each sprang a 
couple of guards with cocked cross- 
bows. 

“Stand, or you’re a dead vassal!” 
squeaked the king. 

Djam sheathed his sword reluc- 
tantly. “Your awesomeness, my 
humble apologies for an irreverent 
intrusion. But by Qondyorr and 
Hoi, ’tis not to be borne that this 
heap of foulness who calls himself a 
painter shall be allowed to encumber 
the earth with his loathsome pres- 
ence any longer !” 

“What’s he done?” 

“I’ll tell you straight. He comes 
to me, pretending to paint por- 
traits, and is welcomed as an old 
friend. What happens? Within 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



103 




the day I learn that he’s no painter 
at all, but a spy from Mikardand 
sent to assassinate me. So, natu- 
rally, I fling him in pokey to be ex- 
pended at the holy games. Then by 
some witchcraft he magicks the yeki 
so the beast won’t eat him, and sub- 
sequently is spirited out of jail by 
a pair of fellow-desperadoes and dis- 
appears. Belike he corrupted some- 
one in my service, or ’twould not 
have passed off so smoothly, though 
the villains all swear innocence and 
I can’t hang ’em all in the hope of 
getting the right one.” 

“How know you he’s a spy?” 
asked the king. 

“My friend at Novorecife, Julio 
Gois, sent word. Here’s his letter, 
see you, and here’s another he sent 
with yon baghan who-altered it.” 

Hasselborg broke in: “May it 
please your awesomeness, I’m not a 
Mikardandu, as you’ll find out if you 
inquire there. I only stopped a 
night at Mishe on my way to No- 
vorecife, since Mikardand is no place 
for an artist. At Novorecife I made 
Gois’ acquaintance and asked for an 
introduction to somebody in Rosid ; 
that’s all I know about it. The rea- 
son the dasht is so sore is that I 
busted up his attempt to have the 
Lady Fouri kidnaped by his gang of 
tame bandits.” 

“What’s this? What’s this?” said 
Eqrar. 

“Sure, he did it. She told me 
herself she left Rosid because he 
wouldn’t let her alone, so he had 
her snatched, and I don’t think be- 



cause he wanted a partner to play 
checkers with either.” 

“What about this, my lord 
Djam?” said the king. 

“Lies, all lies,” said the dasht. 
“Where’s his proof?” 

Hasselborg said: “I heard the 
robbers discussing the matter around 
their campfire. Bring some of them 
in and they’ll tell you.” 

The king asked : “Where be these 
robbers now?” 

“Hanged, every one of ’erri,” 
shouted Djam. “I chanced upon 
’em whilst in pursuit of this wretch, 
and applied the high justice on the 
spot.” 

Hasselborg thought, I passed by 
his garden, and marked with one 
eye, how the Owl and the Panther 
were sharing a pie— “Because 
they’d failed to get her as he or- 
dered, or else to shut their mouths 
for good.” 

The dasht started to bellow ob- 
scenities when the king said : “Peace, 
peace, peace, both of you. Now, 

here’s a veritable puzzle. You, 

Djam, say that Master Kavir’s a 
spy, though your only evidence is the 
word of the Ertsu Julio, which is in- 
admissible in Gozashtando law and 
worthless as a matter of general ex- 
perience. Then you, sir painter, ac- 
cuse my faithful vassal of suborning 
the abduction of the niece of the 
high’ priest of the Established 
Church for fell purposes— though the 
fellness of these purposes might be 
mitigated by the damsel’s excessive 
beauty, which would rouse thoughts 



104 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




of love in the liver of the holiest 
eremite. Still, the chick’s a favorite 
of mine, since I have no girl-chil- 
dren of my own, and therefore I’d 
take a grave view of the matter were 
it substantially proved. Yet your 
only proof is the word of men whose 
word woSld carry little weight were 
they alive and none at all since 
they’re deceased. 

“I could, of course, have both of 
you interrogated with hot pincers”— 
he smiled unpleasantly, whereupon 
both Hasselborg and Djam looked 
gravely respectful— “save that in my 
experience that treatment, while oft 
beneficial to the victim as well as 
edifying to the spectator, fails to 
elicit that for which we’re most 
eager— to wit, the truth. What 
would you with this man. Lord 
Djam?” 

“I would snatch him back to Ruz, 
your awesomeness, to commute his 
sentence from death-by-beast to 
death-by-beheading, thereby show- 
ing my merciful nature, though I 
doubt he’ll appreciate the change. If 
his magic’ll glue him back together 
after his head’s been separated from 
the rest of him. I’d say he’d earned 
his worthless life.” 

“But,” cried the king, “how then 
shall my portrait be finished ? From 
his sketch I can see that ’twill be 
the best ev^r made of me, which 
implies that, spy or no, he’s a true 
artist even as he claims. No, no, no, 
Djam, you shall not take him away 
ere he’s finished the great w'ork ; we 
owe that to the empire and to 
posterity !” 



Djam chewed his lip, then said: 
“Could we not leave him here under 
guard long enough to cornplete the 
picture, and then slay him as he 
deserves ?” 

Hasselborg said: “Your su- 

premacy, d’you really think a man 
with my artistic temperament could 
give his best to his art with a death 
sentence hanging over him?” 

“No, no, I see your point. Master 
Kavir, and moreover there’s the 
matter of your charge against 
Djam—” 

“You’re not crediting these fan- 
tastic lies ?” said the dasht. 

“You will kindly not interrupt 
your sovereign. ’Tis a serious mat- 
ter, Master Kavir, to level such a 
charge against an anointed dasht. 
But withal, your charge is as well- 
attested as his, which is to say not at 
all. Now, hear my judgment, both 
of you: You, Kavir bad-Ma’lum, 
shall remain inviolate at Hershid 
until the work be done. After that 
you may remain in this city, taking 
the hazard that Djam will return 
with evidence that would force me 
to give you to him ; or you may leave, 
and in that case he may have you if 
he can catch you. You, Djam bad- 
Kone, abide by these conditions, and 
no sending of one of your ruffians to 
extinguish Master Kavir by stealth 
while he’s in my territory. Should 
aught of that nature befall him. I’ll 
know where to look. Seems that not 
fair?” 

“Then,” roared Djam, “there re- 
mains but one course. Kavir bad- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



105 




Matlum or whatever your name is, 
I declare you a knave, pervert, 
scoundrel, spy, coward, liar, and 
thief, and challenge you to disprove 
these assertions with weapons of war 
upon my person.’’ With which the 
dasht pulled off his glove and threw 
it at Hasselborg. 

The king sighed. “I thought I had 
everything arranged, and you do 
that. ’Tis true there’s some ques- 
tion as to whether a person in Mas- 
ter Kavir’s station be compelled to 
accept a challenge from a gentleman, 
especially one of your not incon- 
siderable rank—” 

“See the case of Yezdan versus 
Qishtaspandu, only last year,” re- 
torted Djam. “A professional artist 
is considered constructively a gen- 
tleman, and so may be challenged.” 
“Here, here,” said Hasselborg. 
“We do things a little differently in 
Malayer. Somebody explain. Djam 
wants to fight me, is that right?” 
“And how I do !” 

“What happens if I don’t feel like 
fighting ?” 

“Ha hah!” said Djam. “A thin- 
livered wretch, said I not? Already 
he seeks to crawl out. Well sir, in 
that case we inflict upon you, as 
stigmata' of your cowardice, the five 
mutilations, beginning with your 
ears—” 

“Never mind the rest. Do I get a 
choice of weapons?” 

“Surely. Any weapon in the ap- 
proved list— lance, pike, sword, dag- 
ger, battle-ax, mace, halberd, gis- 
arme, flail, javelin, longbow, cross- 
bow, sling, or throwing-knife; with 

106 



or without shield, armored or bare, 
afoot or mounted. I’ll take you on 
with any combination you care to 
mention, for you’ll be the twelfth to 
try to stand against me. Twelve’s 
my lucky number, you know.” 
Hasselborg, not thinking it neces- 
sary to ask what had become of the 
other eleven, got out his knuckle- 
duster and showed it to the king. 
“Would this be allowed?” 

“No, no, no!” said the latter. 
“What think you, that we’re savages 
from the Koloft Swamps, to pummel 
each other with fists ?” 

“Then make k crossbows, un- 
armored, and afoot,” said Hassel- 
borg, who as an expert rifle-shot fig- 
ured that this weapon would give 
him the best chance. “You’ll have 
to give me a couple of days to prac- 
tice up.” 

“Accepted,” said Djam. “A fine 
brabble ’twill be, with me the best 
crossbow-hunter in Ruz. Saw you 
my collection of heads?” 

“You mean the ones on spikes 
over the city gate? Vulgar ostenta- 
tion, I thought.” 

“No, fool, the heads of the beasts 
I’ve slain. Your supremacy, let me 
urge that you set a guard over this 
scum, lest he steal away in the 
night.” 

“Fair enough,” said the king. 
“Master Kavir, hear my royal com- 
mand : That you move your gear 
forthwith to this the royal palace. 
I’ll send men to help you move.” 
Hasselborg mentally added : To 
keep him from making a break for 
liberty. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Fouri’s eyes widened with horror 
when he told her what was up, and 
Haste seemed mildly distressed. 

“A foolish business, dueling,” said 
the priest. “The Council of Mishe 
condemned it in unequivocal terms. 
Though we of the cloth have long 
striven to convince the nobility of its 
sinful folly, they throw our own 
astrology back in our teeth, saying: 
won’t the stars grant victory to him 
whose triumph is foreordained? 
Discouraging.” 

When he went to his room to 
pack, Fouri followed him, imperi- 
ously telling his pair of guards : 
“Stand you outside the door, churls! 
I command I” 

Either the guards thought better 
of picking an argument with so 
domineering a young lady, or they 
knew her as a privileged character. 
She threw herself on Hasselborg’s 
neck, crying : “My hero ! My love 1 
Can I do aught to save you ?” 

“Yes, as a matter of fact you can,” 
he said. “Could you sew a pair of 
pads into the elbows of the jacket 
of my old suit?” 

“Pads ? Sew ? What mean you ?” 

Hasselborg patiently turned the 
coat inside out and explained what 
he wanted. 

“Oh, I understand now,” she said. 
“A wretched seamstress I, but still 
I’ll let none other do it, for then 
when you wear this jacket, the oc- 
cult force of my love will flow 
through your veins and nerve you to 
deeds of might.” 

“That’ll be nice,” he said, folding 
his clothes on the bed. 



“Oh, it will. And then at last 
shall I be avenged upon this filthy 
fellow.” She stitched away clumsily 
for a while, then said : “Kavir, why 
hold you yourself aloof from me? 
You’re colder than the great statue 
of Qarar in Mishe 1” 

“Really?” 

“Yes, really. Have I not given 
you all the encouragement a decent 
maiden can, and more? Look you. 
Uncle Haste could join us tonight in 
a few words, and the king wouldn’t 
boggle at my accompanying you to 
your new chamber in his palace. 
Then whatever ensued, we’d have a 
sweet memory to carry with us to 
our graves, be they early or late.” 
Hasselborg began to worry lest he 
say “yes” against his better judg- 
ment simply to end the argument. 
When he looked at her it took all 
his will power not to take her up on 
her offer ; he’d have done so had he 
been willing to discard his disguise. 
Of course there was Alexandra, but 
she was light-years away. 

He pulled himself together. “I’m 
grateful for your regard, Fouri, but 
I don’t anticipate an early grave ; not 
this time anyway. Marriage is a 
serious matter, not to be entered into 
as a preliminary to a duel—” 

“Then finish your sewing your- 
self, and I hope you prick your fin- 
ger !” She threw the coat, needle 
and all, at his head, and stamped 
out, slamming the door. 

Smiling wryly with a mixture of 
amusement, pity, and annoyance at 
the position in which circumstances 
had placed him, Victor Hasselborg 

107 



THE Q,UEEN OF ZAMBA 





picked up the jacket, donned his 
glasses, and began complying with 
her order. Between Haste’s mer- 
curial and amorous niece and the 
Lord of Ruz, he knew just how 
Odysseus felt in trying to steer be- 
tween Skylla and Charybdis. 

His move completed, Hasselborg 
spent a rather dismal evening. The 
guards whom the king had assigned 
to him had evidently received orders 
to stick like leeches. Although he 
would like to have mingled with the 
court and found out more about 
Zamba and its new rulers, the people 
proved unexpectedly impervious to 
the charm he turned on. He won- 
dered if the presence of the guards 
at his elbow might not dampen con- 

108 



versation, until one of his victims set 
him right : 

“Not that we esteem you not, 
Master Kavif, but that, should you 
succumb in the forthcoming contest, 
we’d have likely contracted some of 
your ill luck by fraternizing with a 
doomed man.” 

He retired morosely to his new 
room. Haste and Fouri— who had 
become the courteous hostess again 
—kept him company for a while, the 
former seeming distressed in his 
long-winded and ineffectual way. 

“Officially, you understand,” said 
Haste, “the Established Church dis- 
countenances magic. Still in such a 
case I might get in touch with one 
of the local witches, who’ll put a 
spell on the dasht’s bow—” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“Go right ahead,” said Hassel- 
borg. 

“Not that I really believe in witch- 
craft,” continued Haste, “but one 
can’t deny- that strange things do 
happen, not to be explained by ordi- 
nary philosophy, as the prince says 
in Marian’s play—” 

Finally Haste had to leave to 
check some agronomical observa- 
tions, and took Fouri none too will- 
ingly along. 

Left alone except for his ubiqui- 
tous guai'ds, Hasselborg tried to 
read a Gozashtando book, but soon 
gave it up. The curlicues were just 
too hard to puzzle out, especially 
since he did not want to betray his 
ignorance of the written language in 
front of the guards by using his dic- 
tionary. Moreover the work itself 
seemed to be an interminable metri- 
cal romance, perhaps best compar- 
able to the Earth epics of Ariosto 
and Vega Carpio. 

He tried engaging the guards in 
conversation, finding them agreeable 
enough, but also that he had to do 
most of the talking. He dropped a 
few broad hints about his escape 
from the Rosid clink : 

“. . . you know, Fve been lucky 
in making friends in fixes like that, 
and happily Fve been able to pay 
them back handsomely. The friend 
who helped me in Rosid will never 
want for anything again—” 

One of the guards said ; “Very in- 
teresting, sir, but that could never 
happen here.” • 

“No?” 

“No. Our dour be a shrewd judge 



of men, most careful to pick those 
for his personal guard who can’t be 
bribed or corrupted.” 

He asked the other guard : 
“Would you agree with that, 
chum ?” 

“Absolutely, sir.” 

Either he’s equally honest, thought 
Hasselborg, or he’s afraid to admit 
otherwise in front of his pal. If one 
could get him alone, then maybe— 
But as time wore on, Hasselborg 
realized that he could not get either 
one of them alone, for they were 
under orders to watch each other as 
closely as they watched him. 

Disgustedly he went to bed, re- 
volving impractical schemes for talk- 
ing Fouri on a promise of marriage 
into ordering these guards to look 
the other way while he bolted. He 
was still thinking thus when he fell 
asleep. 

The next morning Hasselborg 
went dowyi to the royal armory to 
borrow a crossbow. He chose one 
that fitted his length of arm, and 
whose steel Ijow was as strong as he 
could cock with a quick heave of 
both hands on the string. Then he 
went out to the exercise ground, 
where he understood the duel would 
be held the following morning. 

The minute he appeared, an 
official-looking person rushed up. 
“Master Kavir, you may not bring 
that weapon hither now!” 

“Huh? Why not?” A crowd 
with their backs to Hasselborg was 
watching something. Being taller 
than most of them he soon made 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



109 




out that they were looking at Djam 
bad-Kone at target practice. 

“Why, the rule ! Ever since Sir 
Gvasten ‘accidentally’ skewered the 
Pandr of Lusht with a longbow shaft 
while they were at friendly practice 
for their duel, the dour has forbid- 
den that two gentlemen under chal- 
lenge should practice here at the 
same time.” 

“O.K., suppose you hold the bow 
until he’s finished,” said Hasselborg, 
handing over the weapon. 

“Yes, yes, but I dare not let you 
promenade around here while he’s 
armed ; comprehend you not ?” 

“Oh,. I’ll be careful and not get 
close to him.” Followed by his 
guards, Hasselborg strolled over to 
the crowd and watched quietly for 
some time before the other spec- 
tators became aware of his presence. 
Thereupon they turned heads to look 
at him, and the dasht, seeing him 
also, flashed him a rousing sneer 
over his shoulder and addressed him- 
self again to the target. 

The system appeared to be that 
the duelist had to stand with an un- 
cocked crossbow in his hands and his 
back to the target. On a signal given 
by a whistle he snatched a bolt from 
his belt, cocked his weapon, whirled, 
anc}^ shot. The dasht’s next bolt 
went through the man-shaped tar- 
get in the heart region— that is, the 
Krishnan heart region, which "was 
more centered than that of Earth- 
men— adding one more to a sinister 
constellation of holes in the cloth. 
Djam was obviously no tyro. 

Hasselborg watched the dasht 

110 



closely for hints on how to beat this 
game. He remembered reading a 
case years before at Harvard Law 
School on the subject of obsolete 
laws— about the Englishman who 
around 1870, losing a lawsuit, chal- 
lenged his opponent to trial by bat- 
tle and appeared in the lists on the 
appointed day with lance and sword, 
armed capapie, and then claimed to 
have won his suit because the other 
litigant hadn’t shown up. The law- 
yers scurried about frantically and 
found that the man had won his suit, 
and Disraeli had to call a special ses- 
sion of Parliament to abolish trial by 
battle. 

After an hour or so the dasht quit 
and marched off, followed by the 
men-at-arms he had brought from 
Rosid. Several of the local gentry 
hung around, waiting to see Hassel- 
borg perform. 

Hasselborg, however, had no in- 
tention of making a fool of himself 
in front of bompany. He sat lazily 
on a bench and engaged his guards 
in conversation on the technical 
points of crossbowmanship, on the 
pretext that: “We do things dif- 
ferently in Malayer, but perhaps you 
local guys have better ideas—” 

Since the incorruptible whom he 
had approached without success the 
previous night proved an enthusi- 
ast, Hasselborg had merely to feed 
him occasional questions until the 
spectators, becoming bored, drifted 
off. 

“Now I’ll try a few,” said Hassel- 
borg, to whom the marshal had given 
back his bow after Djam had de- 

astounding science-fiction 




parted. “Remember that they use 
a different kind of bow in my coun- 
try, so I’ll make a few misses at 
first.” 

And a few clean misses he did 
make. The trouble with this thing 
was that it had no sights, but per- 
haps that could be remedied. 

He asked ; “Where can I get a 
couple o^ pins about so long, with 
round heads like so?” He indicated 
something on the order of a corsage 
pin. 

“I can get you such,” said the 
enthusiast, “for my sweetheart is- 
maid to the Lady Mandai. Since I 
may not leave you, ’twill take some 
little time—” 

Half an hour later Hasselborg had 
his pins. He firmly pressed one into 
the wooden stock of the crossbow 
near the muzzle end, to one side of 
the bolt groove, and the other into 
a corresponding position to the rear. 
Then he made a few more shots, ad- 
justing the pins until, from the 
official distance, he could make 'a 
clean hit by shooting with the heads 
of the two pins in line with the 
target. 

“By all the gods,” said the en- 
thusiast, “what’s this our good Mas- 
ter Kavir has done? By the nose 
of Tyazan, ’tis surely a new and 
deadly idea!” 

“Oh, that’s old stuff where I come 
from,” said Hasselborg. 

He was now confident that he 
could hit the target all right; the 
problem remained to keep the target 
from hitting him. Djam had done 
all his shooting from an erect posi- 



tion. “Do the rules require you to 
shoot standing?” 

“What other position is there?” 
said the enthusiast. 

The other guard said : “I’ve seen 
men shoot kneeling. In truth, the 
drillmaster the dour had before the 
present one taught sinking to one 
knee to shoot from behind a wall or 
other obstacle. That was before your 
time, Ardebil.” 

Hasselborg asked ; “How about 
the rules?” 

“I know of nought to prevent one 
from .shooting from any position he 
likes,” said the enthusiast. “For 
aught I know, ’tis legal to charge 
your foe and smite him on the pate 
with the stock of the bow.” 

Hasselborg cocked the ...bow and 
lay down prone, thankful for the 
pads in his jacket but also wishing 
the flagstones of the exercise court 
were cleaner. His shooting, how- 
ever, became so good that the guards 
whistled their appreciation. 

The enthusiast said: “ ’Twere a 
chivalrous thing to warn the dasht 
of that which he faces.” 

“You wouldn’t want to spoil his 
surprise, would you?” said Hassel- 
borg. 

Next morning Hasselborg stood 
on the same flagstones listening to 
the marshal intone the rules of the 
contest : “. . . and at the ends of the 
court your bows will be handed unto 
you. You shall stand facing the wall 
and making no move until the 
whistle. Then may you fight how- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



111 




soever you will, and may the stars 
grant victory to the right.” 

The marshal was standing in back 
of a little wooden wall about a meter 
long and breast-high, behind which 
he could duck if things got too hot. 
He and the duelists were the only 
people in the court, though the palace 
windows which surrounded the court 
on three sides were full of faces. 
King Eqrar, High Priest Haste, 
Fouri— 

“Stand back to back,” said the 
marshal. “Now walk to the ends of 
the court : one— two— one— two— ” 

“Are you ready?” 

Hasselborg stood facing the stone 
wall, gooseflesh on his back, into 
which back he more than half ex- 
pected Djam to send an iron bolt 
any second. He was finding a formal 
duel harder on his nerve than he 
expected. A fight was one thing; 
he’d been in several on Earth that 
had resulted fatally for his antago- 
nist. The first time it had given him 
the bleeps, but after that he’d taken 
it as a matter of course. Now the 
shivery feeling of his first lethal 
fight had come back. This stand- 
ing up like a fool and deliberately 
risking— 

The whistle blew piercingly. 
Hasselborg, tensed for action, 
dropped the nose of his crossbow to 
the ground, stuck his toe into the 
stirrup on the end, and heaved on 
the string. It came back with a faint 
sound into the notch. He snatched 
a bolt from his belt, whirled, and 
threw himself prone on his elbow 

112 



pads, placed the bolt in its groove, 
and sighted on his target. 

Djam bad-Kone was just sight- 
ing along his cocked crossbow as 
Hassell)org brought the heads of the 
pins into line with the shiniest of the 
medals on the chest of the dasht, 
Djam seemed to hesitate ; raised his 
head for a second to look at the an- 
tagonist who had fallen down with- 
out waiting to be hit, then squinted 
down the stock of his weapon again. 

Hasselborg squeezed the trigger. 
The stock kicked sharply and the 
bolt flashed away with a hum, rising 
and falling a few centimeters in its 
flat trajectory. 

Then something exploded in 
Hasselborg’s head, and the light 
went out. 

X. 

Feeling hands trying to turn him 
over, Victor Hasselborg opened his 
eyes. His head ached frightfully. 

'“He lives yet,” said one. 

“Which can’t be said for the 
other,” said somebody else. Their 
general chatter made a dull roar iii 
Hasselborg’s head. 

With great effort he pulled him- 
self into a sitting position and felt 
of his pate. At least there did not 
seem to be any fragments of skull 
grinding together like ice-floes in an 
Arctic storm, though his hand came 
away bloody. The dasht’s bolt must 
have grazed his scalp and carried 
away his hat, which lay on the stones 
between him and the wall. 

“I’m O.K.,” he said. “Just let 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




me alone a minute.” He wanted no 
Krishnan fingers exploring around 
the roots of his dyed hair or his 
glued-on antennae. 

“Look!” said a voice, “a new 
method of sighting a bow, by the 
stars I Had we such at the. battle of 
Meozid— ” 

. . by Qondyorr, not knightly; 
he should have warned Djam, so 
that—” 

“. . . has the new dasht reached his 
majority?” 

Hasselborg realized that the king 
was looking down at him. He got 
up, staggered a little, and finally 
found his balance. 

“Yes, sire?” he said. 

The king replied : “Master painter 
you’ve riven me of a good vassal, a 
good stout fellow. Though since it 
had to be one or the other of you 
I’m not altogether displeased ’twas 
he. While a strong and loyal right 
arm, there’s* no denying he was diffi- 
cult. Yes, difficult. Kidnaping 
gentlewomen— Get you to the sur- 
geon and have your crown patched, 
and then let’s to the painting again. 
It had better be good, now. I sup- 
pose I shall have to attend his fu- 
neral; barbaric things, funerals.” 

“I thank your awesomeness, but 
with my head feeling the way it does 
I’m afraid the picture would look 
pretty gruesome. Can’t we put off 
the next sitting for a day at least?” 

“No, varlet! When I say I wish 
it today— but then, perhaps you’re 
right. I shouldn’t wish my nose in 
the picture to wander over my face 
like the Pichide River over the 



Gozashtando Plain merely because 
my artists can’t see straight. Get 
you patched and rested, and resume 
your work as soon as may be there- 
after. Stray you not from the city, 
however.” 

“I don’t suppose I need these 
guards any more, do I ?” 

“No, no, they’re dismissed.” 

“And d’you mind if—” 

“If what? If what?” 

“Nothing, your supremacy. 
You’ve done me enough favors al- 
ready.” 

He managed a teetery bow, and 
the king minced off. Hasselborg 
had been about to ask to be allowed 
to move back to Haste’s palace, 
where the service was better or- 
ganized, when it occurred to him 
that he’d be encouraging Fouri to 
think up some scheme to lure or 
coerce him into marrying her. 

Fouri was gushing over his sur- 
vival and Haste was congratulating 
him in more restrained style when 
a rough-looking individual said : 
“Master Kavir, may I have a word? 
I’m Ferzao bad-Qe, captain of the 
late dasht’s personal guard.” 

When he got Hasselborg aside, 
the man continued: “Now that the 
death of the dasht has canceled our 
oaths to him, the lads and I wonder 
what next, d’ye see ? The late dasht 
was a good fellow, albeit careless 
with his coin, so that our pay came 
somewhat irregularly. Now he’s 
gone, his eldest inherits, but is not 
yet of age, wherefore his widow’s 
regent. A sour wench, as thrifty as 
the dasht was liberal, and will no 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



113 




doubt start by letting half of us go 
and cutting the pay of the rest. 

“So we wondered if in accord- 
ance with the old custom ye’d like to 
take us on as your men. We’re stout 
fighters, none fiercer, and if ye but 
give us the word we’ll seize an isle 
in the Sadabao Sea and make ye a 
sea king, like that fellow on Zamba. 
What say ye ?” 

This was a new problem. “How 
much did the dasht pay you ?” asked 
Hasselborg. 

“Oh, as to that, the amount varied 
with rank, length of service, and the 
like. The total came to mayhap 
forty karda a ten-night.” 

Not bad for an armed gang, 
thought Hasselborg, though no 
doubt he’d find he’d let himself in 
for a lot of extras as well. Maybe 
these birds would come in handy, 
and the money Haste had given him 
would pay them for some time even 
without his sending to Novorecife. 

“I’ll do it,” he said. 

As things turned out, not all of 
D jam’s men wanted service under 
Hasselborg. Only twenty-nine of 
them when all were counted. Some 
of the others said they might con- 
sider it after they’d returned to 
Rosid for their former master’s fu- 
neral. Tanf mieux; the money would 
last even longer. 

Hasselborg shut himself up in his 
room, applied his pills to his head- 
ache, and tried to examine his 
wound. Unfortunately the latter 
was on the extreme top of his head 
where he could not see it with a sin- 

114 



gle mirror. After half an hour’s 
experimenting he rigged up a sec- 
ond mirror so that he could look 
down on himself. 

The gash had stopped bleeding, 
and the hair around it was thick 
with dried blood. He washed some 
of the blood out, cut off some of the 
hair next to the scalp with the little 
scissors from his sewing kit, applied 
disinfectant, and closed the wound 
with a small piece of adhesive tape. 
Not a professional job, but it would 
have to do. 

In the process he noticed that his 
hair was beginning to show brown 
at the roots. Therefore, with a small 
brush, he applied the dye that the 
barher at Novorecife had sold him, 
around the edges where it showed. 
The antennae seemed still secure; 
however, one of the pointed tips of 
his ears was coming adrift and had 
to be re-glued. 

He spent most of the day napping. 
Then he set out for dinner at Haste’s 
palace, having promised the high 
priest with some misgivings that he 
would eat with them that night to 
celebrate his survival. This time, 
however, he had a legitimate excuse 
to turn down Haste’s cocktails, say- 
ing his head ached still ; he’d noticed 
with alarm that he was actually get- 
ting to like these drinks. 

“Tell me about Zamba and its new 
dour,” he asked Haste. 

The priest raised his antennae. 
“Why are you interested, my ,so'n? 
I should think that having received 
your fee for Antane’s portrait, your 
curiosity would be satisfied.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“Oh, well— I just wondered how 
Antane got so far in such a short 
time. He never impressed me that 
much when I knew him. And what’s 
he going to do next, now that he has 
his kingdom?’’ 

“As to that, that’s as the stars— 
yes?” 

A younger priest, the one Hassel- 
borg had seen on previous occa- 
sions, had just come in to whisper 
in Haste’s ear. The high priest 
said : “ ’Tis as bad as being a physi- 
cian. I must go to check the heliacal 
setting of Rrayord. Tell the cook 
to hold dinner a few moments, will 
you, Fouri?” 

When her uncle had gone, Fouri 
leaned towards Hasselborg and 
looked at him out of her fathomless 
green slanting eyes. “I could tell 
you news of Zamba. My gossips at 
the dour’s palace fill my ears with 
it.” 

“What is it?” 

She smiled. “I but said I could 
tell, not that I would.” 

“What d’you mean?” Of course 
he knew well enough. O boy, here 
we go again ! 

“I could be valuable helpmeet to 
one like yourself, but see no point 
in throwing away my favor to one 
who’ll merely say ‘thank you’ and 
ride off and think no more of Fouri.” 

“How do I know your gossip’s as 
valuable as all that?” he said. 

“Trust my word. I have news 
of import about King Antane.” 

Hasselborg shook his head. “Fm 
afraid I can’t make a trade for any 
secret sight unseen.” Seeing her 

THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



look of pain, he added : “Of course I 
am fond of you in a way, and if your 
news were important it might help 
me to make up my mind about other 
things.” 

“Ghd! Let’s not spar with wooden 
swords any longer. Will you prom- 
ise, if it does in truth prove im- 
portant, to wed me instanter, by the 
rites of the Established Church?” 

“No.” 

“Oh, you wretched man ! So Fm 
to give you all I know and mayhap 
you’ll consider what to do next, as 
if that were a great kindness ! Am I 
so ugly ? Am I so cold ?” 

’ “No.” 

“What then?” 

“Matter of principle.” 

“Principle ! Curse your princi- 
ples !” She strode up and down in 
agitation, storming: “I should hire a 
bravo to put steel through your gul- 
let, to see if you’d bleed or merely 
run ink from the wound! Never 
have I known such a man! One 
would think you—” 

Hasselborg found himself dislik- 
ing this scene more and more. He 
fought down a temptation either to 
break off their equivocal relation- 
ship finally, or else to accept her 
offer. 

“Well?” she said. 

“What Fve told you. I’d love to 
hear your news, and the more you 
help me the more grateful I’ll be. 
But I absolutely won’t promise to 
marry you. Not at this stage, any- 
way.” 

She stood breathing hard. “Look 

115 




you. I'll tell you what I hear. Then 
do as you like— go where you will, 
cast me aside, revile and beat me if 
you will. I’ll ask nought of you,, 
save that you believe that I truly 
love you and wish you well.” 

“O.K., I’ll believe that. And I 
won’t say I mightn’t feel the same- 
some day. But what’s the news ?” 
“This— King Antane and his 
queen sail from Zamba for Madjbur 
any day.” 

Hasselborg sat up sharply. “What 
for ?” 

“That I know not, nor my in- 
formant. Antane comes betimes to 
Madjbur to buy, both for himself 
and for his kingdom, or to talk 
trade with the syndics of the Free 
City. For aught I know his present 
visit’s of that kind. But see you not 
the true weight of what I’ve told 
you ?” 

“How?” 

“Why, if you’d accost this sea 
king with whatever mysterious busi- 
ness you have with him, and him un- 
willing, you’d have to pick a time 
when he’s ashore. On his island 
you could never draw nigh without 
his leave, for his galleys command 
the seas thereabouts. Now see you?” 
“I do, and thanks a lot.^ The next 
.problem is, how am I to get away 
from Hershid without having King 
Eqrar get sore and send his army 
after me?” 

Fouri thought an instant and said : 
“Perhaps I could persuade him. The 
old baghan likes me well, though he 
cares not overmuch for my uncle. I 
know not if he’d listen or no. Could 

116 



I prevail upon him, would you 
change your mind?” 

Hasselborg grinned. “No, dar- 
ling. Y ou’re a most persistent young 
person, aren’t you?” 

“No joking matter! See you not 
that you’re tearing my liver in 
shreds ? Oh, Kavir, I always 
dreamed of a man like you—” And 
she began to weep. 

Hasselborg comforted her as best 
he could, then said ; “Pull yourself 
together. I think I hear your uncle 
coming back.” ' 

In an instant she was the sol- 
emnly courteous hostess again. Has- 
selborg thought, whatever Krishnan 
finally joins his lot with hers will 
certainly never have a dull moment. 

Next morning Hasselborg went 
to the king saying; “May it please 
your awesomeness, my headache’s 
gone—” 

“So? Good! Excellent! Then 
we’ll resume the sittings at once. I 
have an hour this afternoon—” 

“Just a minute, sire ! I was about 
to say that, while my headache’s 
gone, I find that my artistic tem- 
perament has been so shaken* by this 
duel that I couldn’t possibly do good 
work until my nerves quiet down.” 
“And when will that be?” 

“I don’t know for sure; it was 
my first duel, you know.” 

“Forsooth? You handled your- 
self well.” 

“Thanks. But as I was saying, 
I’d guess I’ll be ready to paint again 
in less than a ten-night.” 

“Hm-m-m. Well, well, if that’s 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




the way of it, I suppose I shall have 
to let you hang around ogling the 
ladies until you make up your mind, 
or whatever an artist has in lieu of a 
mind. Most unsatisfactory people, 
artists. Most unsatisfactory. Can’t 
depend on them. You’re like old 
Haste, always promising but never 
delivering.” 

‘‘I’m sorry if I make your awe- 
someness impatient, but we’re deal- 
ing with one of those divine gifts 
that can’t be forced. Anyway, aren’t 
you leaving soon for D jam’s fu- 
neral ?” 

‘‘That is true ; I shall be out of 
Hershid for some days.” 

, ‘‘All right then. In the mean- 
time I’d like permission to take a lit- 
tel vacation away from Hershid, 
too.” 

‘‘Where away from Hershid?” 
said Eqrar with a suspicious look. 

‘‘Well— I was thinking of running 
down to Mad j bur for a day or two. 
Change of scene, you know.” 

‘‘No, I know not! You painters 
are really intolerable I Here I give 
you a good fat commission, and any- 
body would agree that a good sub- 
ject am I, and the prestige of hav- 
ing painted me alone would be 
worth your time. I don’t even bring 
a charge of homicide against you 
when you slay one of my retainers 
in a fight. And what do you ? Ex- 
cuses, procrastinations, evasion I I’ll 
not have it! Sirrah, consider your- 
self . . . no, wait. Why come you 
not to Rosid with me? We might 
get some painting done on the 
route.” 




THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



117 



“Oh, sire ! In the first place 
D jam’s funeral would shatter my 
nerves utterly; and in the second 
I hardly think his people would con- 
sider me a welcome guest.” 

“True, true. Well, if I let you go 
to Mad j bur, how know I ’tis not an 
excuse to get out of my jurisdiction 
and flee, leaving me with nought but 
a charcoal sketch for my trouble ?” 

“That’s easy, sir. I’m leaving a 
good-sized sum of. money here, and 
also that gang of D jam’s men who 
signed up to work for me. There’s 
also the little matter of my bill for 
this painting I’m working on now. 
You don’t think I’d abandon valu- 
abel assets like that, do you?” 

“I suppose not. Go on your silly 
trip, then, and may the gods’ help 
you if you come not back as prom- 
ised 1” 

“Could you give me an introduc- 
tion to somebody there? Your am- 
bassador, say?” 

“I have a resident commissioner in 
the Free City. Naen, write this 
worthless artist a note to Gorbovast, 
will you? I’ll sign it here and 
now.” 

This time Hasselborg took pains 
to stand in front of the secretary’s 
desk as the latter wrote, and to try 
to read the letter upside down. If 
written Gozashtandou was hard to 
read right side up, it was worse in- 
verted. Still, the message seemed 
straightforward enough, with no 
deadly words like “spy”. 

The Krishnan noon therefore 
found Victor Hasselborg trotting his 
buggy briskly down the road to- 
lls 



wards the Free City of Mad j bur. 
He hadn’t even said good-by to 
Fouri ; had sent one of his men to 
Haste’s palace with a message in- 
stead, not wanting another scene or 
demand that he take her along. 

He had also been strongly tempted 
to take one of these burly ruffians 
with him, but had given up the idea. 
Traveling with a Krishnan would 
almost certainly result in his learn- 
ing that Hasselborg was an Earth- 
man. 

He passed the usual road traffic; 
overtook and passed the daily train 
from Hershid to Qadr. It comprised 
five little cars, three passenger and 
two freight, pulled along l)y a bish- 
tar shuffling between the rails. A 
couple of young Krishnans in one of 
the passenger cars waved at him, 
just as children did on Earth. He 
waved back, feeling, for the first 
time since his arrival, homesick. 
Dearest Alexandra— He got out 
her Randkerchief for a quick look 
at it. 

He arrived at the village of Qadr 
the evening of his second day on 
the road. As the last ferryboat for 
Madjbur had already left, he spent 
the night without incident in Qadr, 
and took the first 'boat across next 
morning. It was a big barge, rowed 
by a dozen oarsmen rhanning long 
sweeps, and helped along by two 
triangular lateen sails bellying in the 
westerly breeze that came down the 
river on their starboard beam. To 
port the low shores of the mouth of 
the Pichide fell away to nothing, 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




leaving the Sadabao Sea sparkling 
in the rising sun. 

A war galley with catapults in its 
bows went past, oars thumping in 
their oarlocks, and off to port a fat 
merchantman was trying to beat into 
the harbor against the wind. The 
latter was having a hard time be- 
cause at the end of reach the ship 
wore round like a square-rigger in- 
stead of tacking, meanwhile dipping 
the high ends of the lateen yards 
and raising the low ends to reverse 
the set of the yellow sails. During 
this complicated process the ship 
lost almost as much distance drift- 
ing down-wind as she had previously 
gained by running close-hauled. 
Hasselborg thought : Why doesn’t 
one of our people show them how to 
rig a proper fore-and-aft sail . . ? and 
then remembered the Interplanetary 
Council rule. 

A Krishnan objected loudly when 
Hasselborg’s aya snaffled one of the 
fruits he was bringing into Madjbur. 
Hasselborg had to buy a whole bas- 
ketful to pacify the man. 

Gorbovast, the resident commis- 
sioner, was helpful in such essen- 
tials as recommending places for 
Hasselborg to stay and to amuse 
himself. While the commissioner 
did not actually say so, Hasselborg 
got the impression that some of the 
amusements of this famous seaport 
were distinctly on the rugged side, 
like those of Shanghai and Mar- 
seilles on Earth. 

And, unfortunately, Hasselborg 
could not very well ask the fellow 
outright about the expected visit 



of the King of Zamba, as he was no 
longer supposed to be interested in 
such matters, and the commissioner 
would report any unseemly curi- 
osity back to his boss. 

Since the Krishnans, unlike most 
intelligent extraterrestrials, had a 
highly developed system of public 
eating and drinking houses, there 
was nothing for it but to brace him- 
self for the ordeal of a waterfront 
pub-crawl. He’d done it before— 
you go into the first grog-shop, or- 
der one, strike up a conversation 
with the first fellow-customer who 
looks as if he had one brain cell to 
rub against another, and get him 
talking. If he proves an empty sack 
you go on to the next. Hasselborg 
had nearly always, at least in the 
smaller cities, been able to get a 
line on what he wanted to know by 
this method, though it sometimes 
took days and was hard on his deli- 
cately conditioned stomach. Fur- 
thermore it always filled him with 
morbid fears of picking up an 
infection. 

Thus evening found him halfway 
down Madjbur’s waterfront, feeling 
poorly both in the head and in the 
digestive system, about to pump his 
twenty-second sucker. Some of the 
tougher characters had looked at him 
speculatively, but so far the com- 
bination of his powerful build and 
conspicuous sword had discouraged 
hostilities. 

His present victim, a sailor from 
the far island of Sotaspe with the 
quaint name of Morbid, bid fair to 
prove an pmpty sack. The man was 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



119 




one who could take but little liquor, 
and he had already had that and 
wanted to sing the songs of his child- 
hood. He sang in a dialect that 
Hasselborg could follow only half 
the time, and remembered these 
songs in quantity and detail that 
would have done credit to a psycho- 
analytical treatment. Hasselborg 
began to cast about for means of 
escape. 

The other end of the bench held 
another pair in close converse. One, 
facing Hasselborg, was a rustic- 
looking character talking slowly and 
with great emphasis to a bulky fel- 
low with his back to Hasselborg. 

The bulky fellow looked around 
to see what had become of the 
servitor, and Hasselborg spilled a 
drop of his kvad with surprise. It 
was Chuen Liao-dz. 

XL 

“Excuse me, chum,” said Hassel- 
borg to his companion. “1 see an 
-old friend.” 

He walked down the length of the 
bench and placed a hand gently on 
Chuen’s shoulder, saying: “Ni hau 
bti hauf” 

Chuen turned his head with a 
slight smile and no sign of surprise. 
“Wo hau,” he replied in Chinese, 
then switched back to Gozashtandou : 
“Fancy meeting you here ! Sanan- 
dadj, this is my old friend . . . ah . . . 
my old friend—” 

“Kavir bad-Ma’lum,” said Has- 
selborg. 

“Of course. Sanandadj ,has been 



telling me about almanacs. Most 
fascinating business.” He tipped a 
wink at Hasselborg. “I wondered 
how long it would take you to no- 
tice me. How about your friend, the 
sailor ?” 

“He sings.” 

“Indeed? Then we must intro- 
duce them. Master Sanandadj can 
tell the mariner about almanacs 
while latter sings. Most, jolly ar- 
rangement.” 

“O.K. Ahoy there, Morbid !” 
Hasselborg dragged the more or less 
unwilling sailor down and set him to 
singing to Chuen’s friend, who kept 
right on talking almanacs, trying to 
shout down his new acquaintance. 
Under cover of the resulting racket 
Hasselborg asked Chuen : “What 
name are you going by ?” 

“Liyao, which is the nearest they 
can come to first part of my name. 
The surname they cannot manage at 
all : it comes out Chuvon or some- 
thing like that. I was amazed to 
learn that we Chinese are not only 
almost the only people on Earth to 
follow the simple rational system of 
putting surname first, but almost 
only people in the galaxy as well. 
Now, tell me of your adventures.” 
“Not just yet. Suppose you tell 
me yours. This is a funny way to 
investigate economic conditions with 
a view to arranging high-grade im- 
ports and exports, isn’t it?” 

“A little unusual, perhaps.” 
“Chum, you’re no more an eco- 
nomic official than I am ; you’re a 
cop.” 

Chuen smiled. “SKi bu sliif” 



120 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“Perjeitamente. Now, I think we 
can do each other more good by 
working together than separately.” 
“So? What do you propose?” 

“A general laying of cards on the 
table. D’you follow me ?” 

“Very Interesting idea.” 

“Oh, I know, you’re wondering 
how you can be sure I’m honest, and 
how can I be sure you are, and so on. 
Do you know my mission?” 

“No. You never told me.” 

“Well then, I’ll tell you, and you 
can decide whether it’s worth your 
while to be equally frank. I don’t 
think you’ll have any motive for 
putting a spoke in my wheel, and I 
trust I’ll feel the same way about 
you.” Hasselborg went on to tell of 
the pursuit of the truant Julnar 
Batruni. 

Chuen looked really surprised 
when he had finished, saying: “You 
mean this man sends you off on this 
great expensive dangerous trip 
merely for petty personal motives?” 
“If you call wanting to get his 
daughter back a petty personal mo- 
tive, yes.” 

“But . . . but that is sheer romanti- 
cism! And I thought all the time 
you were involved in some profound 
matter of interplanetary intrigue ; 
something to do with government 
policies and interstellar relations ! 
Now turns out nothing but pursuit 
of runaway young woman!” He 
shook his head. “I think you have 
converted me to socialism. Master 
Kavir.” 

“O.K., but how about your open- 
ing up with me? I may need help 

THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



on my project and I can’t hire a 
local yokel for reasons you can 
guess. Maybe you’re in the same 
fix. How about it, huh?” 

Chuen thought a while, then said : 
“I ... ah ... I think maybe you have 
reason, so here goes. I’m an agent 
for Chinese government with special 
commission from World Federation. 
I started out to try trace a shipment 
of fifty machine guns consigned from 
factory in Detroit to my government 
for their security police. These guns 
start out all right but don’t arrive. 

“Now, economically speaking fifty 
machine guns is nothing at all to big 
government, but still nobody likes to 
have stolen guns floating around in 
hands of the criminal class. So, they 
put Chuen on job. ’Trail leads first 
to gangsters in Tientsin, wh® keep 
only twenty-six of guns and pass the 
other twenty-four on to an official of 
Viagens Inter planetarias. 

“Things are obviously getting be- 
yond national scope, so my govern- 
ment gets me a special commission 
from W. F. to run down missing 
guns. I find they’ve been brought 
to Krishna, to be smuggled out of 
Novorecife for delivery to some lo- 
cal potentate. The local potentate 
will use them to conquer the planet, 
or at least as much of it as can 
manage.” 

“Who was to do the smuggling 
out of Novorecife?” asked Hassel- 
borg. 

“Don’t know. Somebody on the 
inside, no doubt.” 

Hasselborg nodded. “But who 

121 




gets the guns ? Don’t tell me, let me 
guess. Anthony Fallon, right?” 
“Right again.” 

Hasselborg lit a cigar. “Have 
one? No wonder I ran into you 
here. It seemed too good for a co- 
incidence, but with you on the track 
of Tony’s guns, and me after his girl, 
our paths were bound to cross. 
Where are the guns now ?” 

Chuen shrugged. “Wish I knew. 
I heard a story that a mysterious 
crate has been hidden in the Koloft 
Swamp by one of gangs of robbers 
that live there, but was no way for 
me to find them. Swamp not only 
big, but full of unpleasant monsters, 
too. However, since I felt sure 
they’d been delivered to Mad j bur for 
Fallon to pick them up, I came here 
to try intercept' them. Been here 
days, checking boats and rafts that 
come down the river and trying to 
pick up a lead in bars and restau- 
rants.” 

Hasselborg said : “I may be able 
to help you there,” and told the 
rumor of Fallon’s impending arrival 
in Madjbur. “I imagine whoever’s 
in charge of the guns will arrange to 
have them here when Fallon ar- 
rives.” 

“I imagine, too. What connec- 
tions you got in Madjbur?” 

“King Eqrar gave me a letter to 
his envoy Gorbovast.” 

“Good. Can }mu ask Gorbovast 
when Fallon is expected?” 

“Not very well; I’m supposed to 
be here on a short vacation and not 
to be interested in Fallon, and I sup- 
pose old Eqrar will check up on me 

122 



through Gorbovast. Could you?” 
“Maybe. I am friend of Chief 
Syndic, who know Gorbovast ; may- 
be the syndic knows. We see.” 

The following afternoon Chuen 
came upon Hasselborg sitting on the 
top of a pile on the biggest pier and 
giving a convincing imitation of a 
congenital loafer. Chuen said : 

“The syndic say Eallon due to ar- 
rive tomorrow night or early next 
day. Guns must arrive soon. Are 
you sure nothing’s come in this 
morning?” 

“Not a thing except a towboat 
with two passengers and no freight 
at all, and a timber raft from way 
up-river with nothing on it except a 
stove and a tent for the raftmen. 
Tamates, haven’t we forgotten about 
Qadr? Any piers over there?” 
“Yes, but they’re only used for 
fishing boats and such. All big 
commercial traffic uses this side.” 
“Well, mightn’t our mysterious 
friends be landing in Qadr for just 
that reason?” 

“Maybe, now that you mention it. 
What shall we do about it?” 

“Suppose you take over here, and 
I’ll go across the river and look 
around.” 

“All right.” 

It transpired that the ferry was 
across the river and would not re- 
turn for another hour. Hasselborg 
killed time by strolling about the 
piers and through nearby streets to 
orient himself, and by pumping an- 
other sucker in a bar. Another 
empty sack. Fortunately impatience 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




was not prominent among Hassel- 
borg’s vices. 

When he returned to the ferry 
pier, it was to find a crowd watching 
the efforts of a crew in the uniform 
of railroad employees trying to keep 
a bishtar calm. The ferry was un- 
loading. The spectators watched 
with a mixture of curiosity and 
apprehension, holding themselves 
poised for flight in case the huge 
animal got out of control. 

When the last wagon rumbled off 
and the sails had been furled and 
reset, the ferry master signaled to 
board the boat. Some of those who 
had been intending to do so, seeing 
that they, were to share the craft 
with the bishtar, < changed their 
minds. Others got on, but huddled 
in the corners of the vessel, leaving 
as large a clear space as possible for 
the monster. 

The bishtar, under the urging of 
its keepers, put out a foot and gin- 
gerly tried the deck of the ferry. 
Apparently not liking the yielding 
sensation, it shied back. The man 
yelled and whacked it with sticks and 
pulled on goads which they hooked 
into its thick hide. The bishtar 
squealed angrily and rolled ugly lit- 
tle eyes this way and that, but finally 
let itself be driven aboard, one foot 
after another. The ferry settled vis- 
ibly as it took the weight. 

Then the sailors cast off the lines 
and pushed off with poles. The 
oarsmen ran out their sweeps and 
set to their task, backing out from 
the pier and turning the scowlike 
vessel towards Qadr, and grunting 



with every heave. As they came 
about, the sailors shook out the sails, 
whose flapping startled the bishtar. 
The animal set up an ominous 
squealing, swinging its head from 
side to side, shifting its feet, and 
lashing the air with its trunks. 

Hasselborg had stood on the 
wales, holding a stay, where he could 
leap ashore at the last minute if the 
animal ran amok. While wonder- 
ing what all this portended* he no- 
ticed a bulge in one of his pockets 
and remembered that he still had 
one of the fruits he had bought on 
the ferry the day before. Some he. 
had eaten, some he had fed to the 
Avvau, and the rest he had stowed 
in his pockets this morning for 
lunch. Now one was left, a thing 
that looked like a tangerine but 
tasted quite different. 

Hasselborg stepped near the bish- 
tar’s head and called up to the ma- 
hout on its neck: “Ohe, there, will 
he eat this if I give it to him?” 

“Yes, sir, that she will,” the man 
said. 

Hasselborg extended the fruit in 
gingerly fashion, fatalistically half 
expecting the beast to grab his arm 
in a trunk and beat him to bits 
against the nearest mast, like a psy- 
chologist’s child venting its temper 
on a doll. However the bishtar, after 
a waty look, put out a trunk and 
delicately took the fruit. Chomp. 
Then it stood quietly wagging its 
ears, since the sails, having filled, 
were no longer flapping. 

“Thank ye, sir,” said the mahout. 

123 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 




“No trouble. What’s she being 
taken over for?” 

“That I know not. They do say 
we’re to run a double-header to 
Hershid tomorrow, or perhaps the 
next day.” 

“A big load?” 

“So I suppose. If ye’d really like 
to know, ask the station agent in 
Qadr.” 

So 'far, thought Hasselborg, he 
and Chufen had assumed that Fallon 
would simply come into Madjbur in 
one of his ships, take delivery on his 
guns, and sail away again to Zamba 
unless stopped. Could it be' that he 
was planning a lightning descent on 
Hershid to seize the whole Empire 
of Gozashtand? It was a little odd 
for an invading army to come in on 
the daily train. Come to think of it, 
however, Fallon’s men would be 
sailors, as out of place on an aya or 
shomal as a horse on a house top. 
Moreover such a sudden move by 
Fallon, outpacing even the rumor of 
his coming, would catch the dour 
entirely unprepared. 

A fishy smell announced that they 
were drawing near to Qadr. When 
they docked at the ferry pier, Fal- 
lon watched the railroad men get 
the bishtar in motion again. The 
animal got off with much more 
alacrity than it had shown on the 
other side and lumbered up the main 
street, while small tame eshuna ran 
out of the sagging shacks that lined 
the street to yowl at it. 

Hasselborg, after pleasantly greet- 
ing the dour’s frontier guards who 

124 



loafed on the pier, followed the bish- 
tar to the railroad yard, his boots 
squilching in the mud. Here he 
loafed around the station, smoking, 
until nobody would take him for an 
importunate inquirer. Finally he 
got into conversation with the sta- 
tion agent and said : 

“That bishtar you fellows brought 
over on the ferry this afternoon 
nearly scared the daylights out of 
the passengers. She doesn’t like 
boats.” 

“No, that’s a fact, they don’t,” 
said the agent. “But with the river 
so wide here we can’t build a bridge, 
so we must needs use the ferry to 
move bishtars and rolling stock be- 
tween Madjbur and Qadr.” 

“Are you planning to run some 
big train soon?” 

“So they tell us. Somebody’s 
coming in with a great crew of men 
to take to Hershid. Yesterday a 
man comes up to buy twenty-six 
tickets in advance. Who he be I 
know not ; howsomever, since he had 
the gold, we’ve no choice but to get 
ready.” 

They were still engaged in small 
talk when Hasselborg heard the 
warning bell from the ferry. Know- 
ing that this was the last trip that 
day, he had to run to make it, arriv- 
ing just as the lines were being cast 
off. 

He leaped the two-meter space be- 
tween the barge and the pier and 
sat down to puff. He hadn’t had 
time to snoop around for the guns, 
though this news about twenty-six 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




tickets for Hershid was probably 
more urgent. 

Chuen seemed to think so, too. 
“Nothing has come, sir. One large 
towboat with some baggage aboard, 
but nothing that could hold machine 
guns.” 

“There’s no other way from the 
Koloft Swamp to Madjbur?” 

“Are roads from the swamp to 
Mishe. One runs straight south 
from Novorecife and the other from 
the village of Qou at edge of the 
swamp. So you could take these 
guns to Mishe and then by big high- 
way from there to Madjbur. I think 
that unlikely, because it’s more 
roundabout, and also the Order of 
Qarar polices Republic of Mikardand 
very thorough. So chances of get- 
ting them through would be less.” 
“It’ll be dinner time soon,” said 
Hasselborg, looking at another stun- 
ning Krishnan sunset. 

“Do you want go eat while I watch 
river, and then take my place?” 
“O.K., . . . say, what’s that?” 
Up-river, its one lateen sail pink 
in the sunset, a boat was approach- 
ing. Chuen, following Hasselborg’s 
gaze, reached out and gave his com- 
panion’s wrist a quick squeeze of 
warning. “It’s type of boat I saw 
used around Qou,” he murmured. 

As the boat came closer, it re- 
solved into a kind of wherry with a 
single mast stepped in the bow and 
eight or ten oars on a side. 

“Better get back a little from the 
end of the pier,” muttered Hassel- 
borg. 

“SKi. You take base of this pier ; 



I take base of second pier up,” said 
Chu?n. “You got a cigar? I’m all 
out.” 

Hasselborg yawned, stretched, 
and sauntered back towards shore, 
to resume his loafing against a ware-- 
house wall. Chuen departed up- 
river. 

Hasselborg watched the boat with 
ostentatious lack of interest. Be- 
tween the current, the breeze, and 
the efforts of the oarsmen the boat 
soon arrived off their sections of 
the waterfront. Down came the sail 
with a rattle of blocks, and the boat 
crawled tow-ard shore under oar- 
pow'er alone. The crew were tough- 
looking types, and in front of the 
tillerman in the stern-sheets lay a 
large packing case. 

The boat was pulling into the 
dock that Chuen had chosen to 
watch. Hasselborg strolled in that 
direction as the boat tied up and the 
crew manhandled the case ashore. 
Nobody paid them any heed as they 
rigged a sling with two carrying- 
poles through the loops. Tw'o of 
them got under each end of each 
pole, put pads on their shoulders, 
and hoisted the case into the air with 
a simultaneous grunt. The eight 
carriers 'set off briskly towards the 
base of the pier, the case bobbing 
slightly and the ropes creaking with 
every step. Two others of the crew 
went with them, while the rest sat on 
the pier, smoked, and waited. 

Chuen followed the .shore party, 
and Hasselborg followed a little be- 
hind Chuen. After a couple of 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



125 





turns in the narrow streets they 
stopped at the door of a big feature- 
less building with windows high up, 
Chuen kept right on walking past 
them, while Hasselborg became in- 
terested in the creatures displayed in 
the window of a wholesale sea food 
establishment, though the wobbly 
Krishnan glass made the things seem 
even odder than they were. 

The man who had held the tiller 
plied the big iron knocker on the 
door of the house. Presently the 
door opened. There was a conver- 
sation, inaudible from where Has- 
selborg stood, and the bearer took up 
their burden and marched into the 
house. Slam ! 

After a while they came out again ; 
or rather, nine of the ten came out. 
Hasselborg kept his eyes glued to the 
sea food, especially one thing that 
seemed to combine the less attrac- 
tive features of a lobster, an octopus, 
and a centipede, as they walked past 
behind him. He drew a long breath 
of relief when they went by without 
trying to stab him in the back. 

Chuen popped out of the alley into 
which he had slipped and came to- 
wards Hasselborg, saying ; “I 
looked around back of building. No 
windows on ground floor.” 

“Then how do we get in ?” 
“There’s one window a little way 
up. Maybe two and a half meters. 
If we had something to stand on, 
could get in.” 

“If we had a ladder— and a crow.” 
“A crow? Bird?” 

“No, a pry-bar . . , you know, a 
jimmy.” 



126 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



“Oh, you mean one of those iron 
things with hook on the end?” 
“Uh-huh. I don’t know what they 
call it in Gozashtandou.” 

“Neither do I, but can do lots with 
sign language. One of us must go 
buy while other one watches.” 
“Hm-m-m,” said Hasselborg. “I 
suppose whatever they have in the 
way of hardware stores are closed up 
by now.” 

“Maybe some open. Madjbur 
keeps very late hours,” 

“O.K., d’you want me to hunt 
while you watch? My legs are 
longer than yours.” 

“Thanks, but better you watch 
while I hunt. You got sword and 
know how to use. I don’t.” 

Hasselborg, forebearing to argue, 
took up his post while Chuen tod- 
dled off on his short legs. The poly- 
chrome lights faded from the sky 
and all three of the moons cast pyra- 
midal shadows into the narrow 
smelly streets. People passed occa- 
sionally, sometimes leading beasts of 
burden. A man whom Hasselborg 
did not recognize— not one of the 
boatmen, surely— came out of the 
building and pushed off on a scooter. 
Hasselborg was just wondering 
whether to give his second cigar one 
more puff or put it out when Chuen 
reappeared lugging a short ladder. 

“Here,” said Chuen, thrusting a 
pry bar with a hooked end into Has- 
selborg’s hand. 

They glanced about. As nobody 
seemed to be in sight at the moment, 



they slipped into the alley that led 
to the rear of the warehouse. 

Chuen had neglected to state that 
the medium-low window opened on 
a little court or backyard isolated by 
a substantial wall with spikes along 
the top. That, however, represented 
only a momentary check. They set 
the ladder against the wall, swarmed 
up it, and balanced themselves on 
top of the wall while they hauled the 
ladder up after them and planted it 
on the ground on the opposite side. 
Then down again ; then to put the 
ladder against the wall of the ware- 
house itself. 

Hasselborg mounted the ladder 
first. He attacked the window— a 
casement-type affair having a lot of 
little diamond-shaped panes— with 
the bar. Since he was an old hand 
at breaking and entering in line of 
duty, the window presently opened 
with a slight crunching of splintered 
wood. He stuck his head inside. 

By the narrow beams of moonlight 
that slanted in through the high win- 
dows, and the faint light reflected 
from a candle out of sight some- 
where on the other side of the struc- 
ture, he could see the tops of what 
looked like acres of bales, crates, and 
boxes. No movement; no sound. 

Hasselborg whispered to Chuen; 
“I think we Can get down to the 
floor level from here without haul- 
ing the ladder in. I’m going to drop 
down inside and scout around. If I 
find it’s O.K., I’ll tell you to come 
down after me. If not. I’ll ask you 
to hand me down the ladder, so we’ll 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



127 




have a way out. Got my sword? 
O.K., here goes.” 

And Victor Hasselborg slid off 
the window sill into the darkness 
inside. 

XII. 

As Hasselborg’s toes struck the 
wooden top of the nearest packing 
case, he thanked the local gods for 
the soft-leather Krishnan boots that 
let him alight silently. The window 
sill was about the height of his chin, 
so that he should be able to get out 
without much trouble. He stalked 
catlike around the top of the case, 
peering about to plan his route. 
Da’vi was still with him, for an easy 
route led down by a series of crates 
and piles of sacks of diminishing 
heights. 

“Chuen!” he whispered. “It’s 
O.K. ; we can leave the ladder where 
it is. Hand me my sword.” 

Chuen’s bulk blocked the dim light 
through the window as he heaved 
himself over the sill with surprising 
quietness for one of his build. To- 
gether they stole down the piles of 
merchandise to the floor and walked 
stealthily towards the candlelight. 
Twice they got lost in the maze of 
aisles between the rows of crates. 
Finally they came to the corner of 
the building where the candle was 
located. 

Looking around the corner of a 
pile of bags, Hasselborg espied a lit- 
tle cleared space, with a desk and a 
chair, and the candle burning in a 
holder on a shelf. Just outside the 
cleared space stood the packing case 



they were after. And, in the angle 
between the case and the wall, a man 
sat with legs asprawl, sleeping— one 
of the boat crew. 

As Hasselborg moved to get a bet- 
ter view, his scabbard struck against 
the merchandise and gave forth a 
faint tink. Instantly the man’s eyes 
opened. For two seconds these eyes 
swiveled before coming to rest on 
Hasselborg and his companion. 

Instantly the man bounded to his 
feet, holding a scimitar that had lain 
on the floor beside him, and sprang 
towards the intruders. Hasselborg 
jumped away from the crates to get 
elbow room and drew his sword. 
The man, however, went for Chuen. 
The curved blade swished through 
the air and met the pry bar with a 
clank. 

Hasselborg stepped towards them 
and cut at the man, who saw him 
coming and skipped away before the 
blow arrived. Then he came back 
again, light and fast, cutting right 
and left. Hasselborg parried at best 
he could, wishing he were an experi- 
enced swordsman so that he could 
skewer this slasher. Clong, dzing, 
thump! Chuen had stepped behind 
the man and conked him with the 
crow. The man’s saber clanged to 
the floor and the man followed it, 
falling to hands and knees. 

He shook his head, then reached 
for his sword. 

“No you don’t!” said Hasselborg. 
In his excitement he spoke English, 
but nevertheless got his meaning 
across by whacking the outstretched 
hand with the flat of his blade. 



128 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




"Ao!” cried the man, nursing his 
knuckles. 

“Shut up and back up,” said Has- 
selborg, remembering his Gozash- 
tandou. 

The man started to comply, but 
Chuen landed heavily on his back, 
flattening him out, and twisted his 
arms behind him. , 

“Amigo,” said the Chinese, “cut 
length of rope off one of these bales 
and give it to me.” 

Hasselborg did so, wondering if 
there weren’t some easier way of 
making a living. While during hot 
action he never had time to be afraid, 
it gave him a queasy feeling when 
he came to reckon up the odds after- 
wards. When the man’s wrists and 
ankles had been secured, they rolled 
him over and shoved him roughly 
back against the wall. 

“Like to live?” asked Hasselborg, 
holding his point under the man’s 
chin. 

“Of course. Who be ye, thieves? 
I but guard the goods while—” 
“Pipe down. Answer our ques- 
tions, and in a low voice, or else. 
You’re one of those who came down 
in the boat from Koloft, aren’t 
you ?” 

“Yes.” 

“Waft,” said Chuen. “What’s be- 
come of the regular watchman?” 
“Cone reveling. There’s a place 
near here he’s long craved to visit, 
but can’t because their working 
hours be the same as his. Since I 
was to stay the night anyway, I told 
him to take himself off whilst I 
watched.” 



Chuen looked at Hasselborg, who 
nodded confirmation, saying : “I saw 
the man leave this building while I 
was waiting for you.” Hasselborg 
then asked the riverman : “Where’s 
the rest of your boatload?” 

“Out on the town, even as the 
watchman, may Dupulan rot his 
soul !” 

“When do they shove off?” 
“Tomorrow, as soon after sunrise 
as their night’s joys’ll let ’em.” 
“D’you know whom this box is 
for?” 

“The Dour of Zamba, so they 
say.” 

“Do you know this dour?' Have 
you ever seen him?” 

“No, not I.” 

“When’s he due in Madjbur?” 
“Tomorrow ere sunset.” 

Chuen interposed : “Whom did 
you get this box from in the first 
place?” 

“Earthman at Novorecife.” 

“What Earthman ?” 

“I . . . uh .. . . know not his name ; 
some unpronounceable Ertsou— ” 
“You’d better remember,” said 
Hasselborg, pricking the man’s skin 
with his point. “I’m going to 
shove—” 

“I know! I remember! ’Twas 
Master Julio Cois ! Take away your 
sticker !” 

Hasselborg whistled. “No won- 
der he tried to have me bumped 
off!” 

“What’s this?” asked Chuen. 
Hasselborg told of his experi- 
ences with the Dasht of Ruz. 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



129 




“Of course !” said Chuen. “Think 
I know. He didn’t believe your 
story about Miss Batruni and took 
you for man after the guns. I 
wouldn’t have believed it myself.” 
“But why should Gois go in for a 
smuggling scheme of this kind ? 
What would he stand to gain from 
it?” 

“No need for material gain. He’s 
. . . ah . . . fanatic about progress.” 
“So that’s why he said that no 
matter what happened, always to re- 
member that he esteemed me ! The 
twerp liked me well enough as a man, 
but since I threatened his world- 
changing scheme, as he thought. I’d 
have to be liquidated.” 

“Undoubtedly.” Chuen turned 
back to the prisoner and switched to 
the latter’s tongue, asking for more 
details. The few he got, however, 
were not such as to change the gen- 
eral outlines of what they already 
knew. 

“I think you’ve pumped our friend 
dry,” said Hasselborg at last. “Let’s 
have a look at the crate.” 

With the pry bar they soon ripped 
the crate open. Inside, ranged in a 
double row in a rack, were twenty- 
four well-greased Colt-Thompson 
6.5-millimeter light machine-rifles. 
A compartment at the bottom of the 
crate held thousands of rounds of 
ammunition. 

Hasselborg took one gun out and 
hefted its four kilos of weight. “Just 
look at these little beauties! You 
can adjust them for any reasonable 
rate of automatic or semiautomatic 
fire; you can set this doohickus to 

130 



fire in bursts of two to ten shots. 
With one of these and plenty of am- 
munition I’d take on a whole Krish- 
nan army.” 

“No doubt what friend Fallon has 
in mind,” said Chuen. “Now that 
we got them, what shall we do 
with ?” 

“I was wondering myself. I sup- 
pose we could tote them an armful 
at a time down to the river and dump 
them in.” 

“That would fix Fallon’s plans, 
all right, but then where would evi- 
dence be?” 

“What evidence?” 

“Evidence against smuggling ring. 
I don’t care much about King An- 
thony. Lots of disguised Earthmen 
adventuring around Krishna, and if 
we get rid of him there will just be 
another soon. Main thing is to bust 
up gang inside Via'gens Interplane~ 
tarias” 

“Let me think,” said Hasselborg. 
“By the way, now that we’ve drained 
this gloop, what’ll we do with him? 
While we can’t very well let him go, 
I don’t like to kill the guy in cold 
blood.” 

“Why not? Oh, excuse, I for- 
get you’re an Anglo-Saxon. If not 
kill him, then what?” 

Hasselborg felt in his pockets. 
“I think I’ve got it. Where’s a 
pitcher and a glass?” He rummaged 
until he found a brass carafe and 
mug. 

“What are you doing?” asked 
Chuen. 

“See this? It’s a trance pill 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




that’ll lay him out cold for a couple 
of weeks.” 

“I don’t see how Novorecife au- 
thorities let you take that out.” 

Hasselborg grinned. “This is one 
they didn’t know about. Or rather 
they thought it was an ordinary 
longevity pill. You might say it 
is, in a way, since I’ll have a better 
chance of a long life on account 
of it.” 

“What are you going to do?” 

“Knock him out, move the crates 
around to make a hiding place, and 
leave him there with enough air to 
keep him alive till he wakes up. In 
this mare’s nest we can hide him so 
it’ll take a month to find him.” 

“All very well, but what when 
watchman come back? And what 
about the guns?” 

Hasselborg had set down his water 
and was toying with the machine 
gun, working the bolt and squinting 
along the sights. He was careful 
to keep the muzzle pointed away 
from the others. 

“Let’s see—” he said. “I used to 
be able to strip and assemble these 
blindfolded.” He unscrewed a wing- 
nut and took out the bolt mecha- 
nism. “As I recall, one of the tricks 
they played on us in the Division of 
Investigation was to wait till we had 
the parts all laid out, then steal the 
firing pin while we were sitting there 
blind, and hope we’d put the gun 
back together without it. Maybe 
we could—” 

“Take out firing pins—” said 
Chuen. 

“And reassemble the guns—” 

THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



“Then let Fallon pick up guns—” 
“Yes, while I tear back to Hershid 
and get my private army !” 

Hasselborg and Chuen slapped 
each other’s backs in sudden en- 
thusiasm. Then the former said : 
“But still we haven’t disposed of 
the janitor. When he comes back 
and find nobody—” 

“He’ll think his companion went 
off for fun too, yes?” 

“Maybe-” 

“I know,” said Chuen. “We put 
this man to sleep, disarm the guns, 
nail crate back together. Then I dis- 
guise myself with this man’s hat and 
sword like member of the boat crew. 
I look more like Krishnan than you. 
I tell watchman I’m member of the 
boat crew who relieved this man dur- 
ing night so he can have fun too. 
Then I leave in morning, saying I 
got to catch boat back to Koloft. 
Really I hang around to make sure 
Fallon get the guns. Meantime you 
take your buggy and ride back to 
Hershid like you said, catch Fallon, 
and turn him over to me.” 

“Yeah, but when the boat crew 
find a man missing—” 

Chuen shrugged. “We hope they 
think he got lost in a dive and go off 
without. I’ll be ready to duck if 
they come around looking for him 
anyway.” 

Hasselborg looked at his machine 
gun with narrowed eyes. “Chuen, 
how badly do you want Fallon?” 
“Ah ... so ... so. Don’t care 
much so long as I get Gois and other 
Viagens conspirators. I suppose 

AST-6K 131 




since Fallon conspired to break regu- 
lations I should bring him in, too. 
Why?” 

“I was thinking that my need may 
be greater than thine.” 

“How so?” 

“I’m supposed to bring Miss Ba- 
truni back to Earth. Now, I can’t 
drag her aboard a spaceship ; the 
minute I get her inside the wall at 
Novorecife she’ll be under Earth 
law.” 

“Yes.?” 

“If you did bring Fallon in to 
Novorecife, what would happen 
then?” 

“I’d present evidence at prelimi- 
nary hearing before Judge Keshava- 
chandra, who would order a trial. If 
he’s convicted, go to jail. That’s 
all.” 

“He’d be tried on Krishna?” 
“Yes.” 

“How about appeals?” 
“Interstellar Circuit Court of Ap- 
peals take care of that. Visit Krishna 
every couple years to hear appeals. 
What are you getting at?” 

“I wondered if there were any 
way of having him tried on Earth. 
You see, if he were dragged back to 
Earth, Julnar Batruni would prob- 
ably come back to Eartb without 
urging. Follow me?” 

“No chance. Fallon’s offenses 
were all committed on Krishna.” 

“In that case, chum, I think I do 
need him more than you do. You 
see I’ll need some hold on Miss Ba- 
truni, and at the moment I can’t 
think of a better one than to leave 
Fallon under duress here.” 



“Oh. Wouldn’t that get you in 
trouble with Earth law, being acces- 
sory to false imprisonment or some- 
thing ?” 

“No it wouldn’t, since the impris- 
onment would be on Krishna outside 
of Novorecife. If this were a planet 
with extradition, it might make me 
liable to trouble, but it isn’t, since 
they haven’t yet got habeas corpus 
and things like that.” 

“I see. But look, companheiro, 
maybe if Fallon is in jail at Novore- 
cife, Miss Batruni would go back to 
Earth for not knowing what else do, 
don’t you think?” 

“Might, or might not. Maybe she 
loves ,him enough to stick around 
Novorecife to be near him ; or maybe 
she’d go back to her island and tell 
the Zambans: ‘Your king’s in the 
clink, so as queen I’m running the 
joint for him until he gets out.’ 
Worsen rulers are fairly common on 
this part of Krishnan. No, I think 
my scheme is the only one I can 
count on.” 

“How will you manage it?” 

“I haven’t worked it all out yet, 
but I’ve got an idea. With your 
help I’m sure we can put it across.” 
They sat looking at each other by 
candlelight silently for a full minute. 
Hasselborg hoped Chuen wmuld ac- 
cede without making an issue of the 
case. Chuen was a good man to 
work with, but by the same token 
would be a dangerous antagonist, 
He hoped he wouldn’t have to resort 
to threats to elicit further co-opera- 
tion. 

Chuen finally said ; “I’ll . . . ah , . . 



132 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




make deal. I help you catch Fallon 
the way you said. Then if I can get 
deposition from him against Gois, to 
help my case there, I'D let him stew 
in own soup. If authorities at Novo- 
recife want him, I’ll try dissuade 
them ; tell them they’d need an army 
to catch him, and anyway he’s turned 
state’s evidence, and thing like that. 
If they insist I bring him in. I’ll 
have to try. You understand?” 

Hasselborg thought a while in his 
turn. He finally replied : “O.K. 
Let’s go to work.” 

While Hasselborg forced his 
trance pill on the unwilling river- 
man, Chuen picked up the curved 
sword. “Thought I’d never use one 
of these, but since I stopped that cut 
with the pry bar I begin think I’m 
made swordsman, too. How you say 
in the Old English? Ha, villain!” 
He swished the blade through the 
air. 

XIII. 

The keepers of the city gate at 
Hershid, knowing Victor Hassel- 
borg as the savior of the Lady 
Fouri, waved him through without 
formal identification. It had rained 
almost continuously since he had left 
Mad j bur, and a few sneezes had 
filled him with more acute fear than 
all the fighters in Krishna. Al- 
though he wanted nothing so much 
as to curl up in bed with his pills 
until the threat of a cold disappeared, 
however, he drove straight to 
Haste’s palace and dashed in. 

“Your reverence,” he told the high 



priest, “you told me when I first 
arrived here that you’d do anything 
I asked in return for my small serv- 
ices to your niece. Is that right ?” 
“Yes, my son?” 

“Well then, here’s where I fore- 
close.” He smiled disarmingly. 
“It won’t be. too terrible and it won’t 
cost the True Faith anything. First 
I’d like you to send one of your 
flunkies over to the royal palace and 
tell Ferzao bad-Qe, the leader of 
my men-at-arms, that I want them 
all to report over here on the double, 
with their arms and their ayas and a 
couple of spares.” 

“Master Kavir, the king has been 
asking after you. Hadn’t you bet- 
ter pay your respects to him? He’s 
impatient—” 

“That’s just the point! I don’t 
want the king to know I’m in town, 
because he’ll want me to paint his 
picture, and I’ve got more urgent 
things to do. . Second, will you have 
somebody go out and buy me some 
fireworks ? The kind you light and 
hold out, and they shoot out colored 
fireballs.” 

“It shall be done, my son.” 
“Thanks. And finally, will you 
prepare one of those cells in your 
basement for an unwilling guest ?” 
“Master Kavir! What are you 
about? I trust that you seek not to 
lure me into sinful acts under the 
guise of gratitude.” 

The guy’s beginning to waver, 
thought Hasselborg, remembering 
King Eqrar’s remark about the 
priest’s habit of promising any- 
thing and fulfilling nothing. He de- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



133 




cided that the way to deal with 
Haste was to be brisk and domi- 
neering. “You’ll see. Nothing 
against the best interests of Gozash- 
tand. And it’s absolutely necessary ; 
I have your promise, you know.” 

Fouri came out and greeted him 
formally. When Haste was occu- 
pied in giving orders, she mur- 
mured : “When can I see my hero 
alone? I’m aflame with longing for 
him ! I cannot sleep—” 

This is where I came in, thought 
Hasselborg. He managed to be 
brightly ■ conversational and com- 
pletely uninformative during the 
next half-hour while his preparations 
were being made. 

He said: “If the king asks, tell 
him I’ve gone hunting with my men. 
It’s no lie, either.” And he strode 
out to his carriage. 

Back on the road to Madjbur they 
sped. . Hasselborg, observing that 
the sun was lowering, hoped they’d 
catch the invaders before sunset. He 
was driving one of the spare ayas 
he’d bought for his little army, since 
he had nearly killed poor Avvau to 
reach Hershid ahead of Fallon. 
They might meet the train any time, 
since, while the aya could outsprint 
the bishtar, the larger beast could 
keep up a higher average speed for 
long distances than any other do- 
mesticated animal. 

Presently Ferzao bad-Qe cantered 
up beside him and pulled down to a 
trot. “Master Kavir,” he said, “me- 
thinks I see something far ahead on 
yonder track !” 



Hasselborg looked. Sure enough 
the track, which stretched away 
across the plain on their left, paral- 
lel to the road, ended in a little spot. 
As they approached, the spot grew 
and grew until it became two bish- 
tars in tandem pulling a dozen little 
cars. 

“You’ve got your orders,” said 
Hasselborg. “Go to it.” 

Ferzao halted and deployed his 
men. One of them handed him a 
Roman candle, which he lit with 
flint and steel. As the fuse fizzed, 
the sergeant galloped across the moss 
towards the leading bishtar, holding 
the firework in front of him like a 
lance. At the same time the other 
twent3"-eight set up a yell, banging 
on their brass bucklers with their 
mailed hands to augment the din. 

The Roman candle spat fireballs at 
the bishtar. A couple bounced off 
its slaty hide, while its mahout yelled 
in terror. The animal screamed and 
lumbered off across the plain away 
from its tormentors, dragging its fel- 
low after it. Behind the second bish- 
tar the first of the little cars left 
the rails : the next teetered and fell 
over on its side. 

A mighty chorus of yells arose 
from the train, and two dozen men 
in sailors’ dress tumbled out of the 
remaining cars with Colt-Thompson 
machine guns. With a disciplined 
movement the sailors dashed out and 
flung themselves down on the moss 
in a line of skirmishers. 

Hasselborg’s men galloped to- 



134 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




wards them with lances couched and 
arrows nocked. Up came the guns. 

“Passoi!” shouted a voice from 
the train. A multiple click came 
from the twenty-four guns. 

“Surrender!” shouted Ferzao. 
“Those things won’t work!” 

He pulled up a few feet in front 
of them. A couple of sailors worked 
their bolts and tried again with no 
better success, while the rest, in the 
face of the lances and drawn bows, 
threw down their guns and rose to 
their knees, arms extended in token 
of surrender. 

“What’s all this?” yelled a voice, 
as a tall gaudily-dressed person 
walked across the moss from the 
train. 

Hasselborg recognized the hand- 
some heartbreaker of the photo- 
graphs under the Krishnan makeup. 
With him came a splendid-looking 
dark girl, and behind them the stocky 
form of Chuen Liao-dz. “What sort 
of reception—” 

“Hello there, Fallon,” said Has- 
selborg, who had secured his reins 
and, like Fallon, followed his army 
on foot to the scene of the battle. 

“Who’s speaking English? You? 
Are you—” 

“Careful, chum ; if you don’t give 
me away I’ll do the same for you. 
Officially I’m Kavir bad-Ma’lum, 
portrait painter by appointment to 
His Awesomeness King Eqrar of 
Gozashtand. Unofficially I’m Victor 
Hasselborg of London.” 

“Oh, really? Well, what do you 
think you’re doing—” 

THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



“You’ll learn. Meanwhile keep 
calm, because I’ve got the advantage. 
This is Miss Juhiar Batruni, isn’t 
it?” 

“Our wife!” growled Fallon. 
“Her Resplendency Queen Julnar of 
Zamba, if you please !” 

“Seems to me you already bad 
one wife in London, didn’t you? She 
sent her regards.” 

“You didn’t come clear from 
Earth to tell us that ! Anyway it’s 
not exactly true. We fixed things 
up.” 

“How?” 

“^Vhy, we divorced her and mar- 
ried I ulnar under Zamban law.” 

“How convenient ! I’ll be judge, 
I’ll 1)e iury, said cunning old Fury. 
Delighted to know you, Queen. Mr. 
Batruni sent me to find out what had 
become of you.” 

“Oh, is that so?” said the girl. 
“Well, now that you know, why 
don’t you go back to Earth and tell 
the old dear, and take your nose out 
of our affairs?” 

“Uh . . . well, the fact is he com- 
missioned me to bring you back if 
possible.” 

“You—” shouted Fallon, and 
tugged at his sword. 

“Grab bim !” said Hasselborg. 
Two of his men pounced on Fallon, 
twisted his arms behind him, and 
took his sword away. 

“Naughty, naughty,” said Hassel- 
borg. “Now let’s continue more 
calmly. As I was saying. Miss Ba- 
truni . . . pardon me, Mrs. Fallon 
. . . or Queen Julnar . . . your father’s 

135 




lonesome and would like to see you 
again.” 

“Well I ... I do love the old fel- 
low, you know, but one can’t leave 
one’s husband and run home four or 
five light-years for a week-end. 
Won’t you please let us be? I’ll 
write Father, or send a message, or 
anything like that—” 

Hasselborg shook his head. 
“We’ll have to go into this further. 
King Anthony, will you please 
mount this aya? One of my men 
will lead it for you, and don’t try any 
breaks. Chuen, here’s one for you—” 
“Oh,” said Chuen, looking appre- 
hensive. “Is no other way to go?” 
“No; I’m taking Miss Ba . . . the 
young lady . . . with me.” 

“You know this fella?” said Fal- 
lon to Hasselborg. “Who is he?” 
“He’s Master Liyao, who’s look- 
ing into the disappearance of certain 
machine guns from . . . uh . . . from 
the mails, if you follow me. How 
did you get on the train with the rest, 
Chuen?’’ 

“Bought ticket ; told some lies 
about how my old uncle was dying 
in Hershid, so they let me ride in 
Fallon’s special. What you doing 
with the Zambava?” 

“Sending ’em back. Hey, you 
there !” Hasselborg called to the ma- 
houts, who were just getting their 
beasts calmed..^ “Special’s canceled. 
Break the train and hitch one of 
those bishtars to the Qadr end of 
the passenger coaches. Now, you!” 
He addressed the sailors, collected in 
a glum and muttering group. “You 

136 



know you were caught invading 
Gozashtand with arms, don’t you?” 

They nodded. 

“And it would go pretty hard with 
you if I turned you over to the 
dour ?” 

A sailor asked : “Don’t ye work for 
him, master?” 

“As it happens I don’t, though he 
and I are good friends. Wouldn’t 
you like to be carried back to Qadr, 
and nothing said about this?” 

“Aye, sir !” cried several of the 
Zambava with a sudden access of 
interest in life. 

“O.K. Ferzao, detail a couple of 
men to see these boys off to Qadr in 
the train. Have somebody help get 
those derailed cars back on the track. 
Assign somebody to lead King 
Antane’s aya, and a couple more to 
shoot him if he tries a break. We’ll 
tell the guards at the gate that we’re 
just back from the hunt, and hope 
they won’t count us. You there, 
pick up those guns and load ’em into 
the carriage.” 

“I say,” said Fallon, “what hap- 
pened that those guns didn’t shoot? 
We’re told they were all right when 
they arrived on Krishna.” 

“T rade secret ; tell you some day,” 
said Hasselborg. “Queen Julnar, 
will you do me the honor? Don’t 
look so scared, Chuen!” 

“Is long way to the ground,” said 
Chuen, peering down from his un- 
easy saddle. 

“Not so far' as it looks. And 
weren’t you kidding me about being 
scared of germs?” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




“Where are you taking us?” de- 
manded Fallon. “To King Eqrar?” 
“Not yet. Keep quiet and behave 
yourself and perhaps you won’t have 
to meet him at all. Hao!” 

Hasselborg cracked his whip, and 
his buggy headed back for Hershid 
at a canter through the sunset. 

Haste stroked the arm of his chair 
with l(^g fingers. “No, I’ll see the 
fellow not, until this matter’s set- 
tled. Till then I’ve no official knowl- 
edge of his presence.” 

“Well,” said Hasselborg, trying 
without complete success to conceal 
his exasperation, “will your rev- 
erence do what I ask, or won’t you?” 
“I know not. Master Kavir. I 
know not. ’Tis true I promised, but 
things have changed since then. I 
fain wovdd help you, yet you ask a 
thing bigger than the Six Labors of 
Qarar. For look you, these sailors 
will arrive back in Madjbur, and 
nothing on Krishna will stop them 
from talking. The talk will come to 
the ears of Gorbovast, who’ll report 
back to the king, who will naturally 
wonder what befell him who led this 
strange invasion. He’ll know you 
carried King Antane off, and the 
people of the city saw you drive up 
to my palace with your retinue. 
Therefore he’ll come snooping 
around here with armed men at his 
back, and if he finds Antane locked 
in that old cell there’ll be awkward 
queries to answer.” 

Hasselborg said : “I think we can 
divert him. Tell him I took Antane 




THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



137 



with me to Novorecife. He won’t 
be able to catch me to find out, I 
hope.” 

“Surely, you put a fair face on 
things. Still, I know not—” 

“Well, there it is. If you want to 
carry out your promise—” Pri- 
vately Hasselborg was more and 
more sharing the king’s opinion of 
his vacillating high priest. 

“I’ll tell you. I’ll do it on one 
condition.” 

“What’s that?” 

“It has not escaped your attention 
that my niece Fouri entertains for 
you feelings warmer than mere 
esteem?” 

“Uh-huh.” 

“Well then, let you wed her by the 
rites of our most holy Church, and 
I’ll undertake to keep your pris- 
oner till you send me instructions for 
his disposal, as you demand.” 

Of course neither Haste nor 
F ouri yet knew he was an Earthman, 
and moreover that he intended to 
return to Earth as soon as he per- 
fected arrangements here. Legally 
it wouldn’t much matter. Once he 
got away from Gozashtand he could 
nullify the marriage or ignore it, as 
Fallon had done with his. 

Still, he disliked doing such a 
serious thing— serious to Fouri at 
least— under false pretenses. 

“Well?” said Haste. 

Now Hasselborg was squirming 
on the horns of the dilemma, as 
Haste had been previously. Should 
he balk at this point, throw up the 
game, turn his captives over to King 



Eqrar, or to Chuen, and report fail- 
ure back to Batruni ? It would sim- 
plify matters with Alexandra. 

No, having come this close to suc- 
cess, he wouldn’t let himself be 
finessed out of it. 

“O.K.,” he said. “How about as 
soon as I get back from where I’m 
going with the queen?” 

“No ; ere you leave. This night.” 
Away went that chance of escape. 
“All right. Whenever you say.” 
Haste broke into a weary smile. 
“I had long hoped that the wedding 
of my niece would be a splendid af- 
fair. I should, for example, have 
consulted the ancient astrological ar- 
chives to calculate the most auspi- 
cious date. However, Fouri insists 
upon an immediate ceremony. 
Therefore ’twill not even be neces- 
sary to compute your horoscopes.” 
Haste looked at the time-candle. 
“ ’Tis the hour for supper. What 
say you we perform it now, as soon 
as we and our friends can make our- 
selves presentable? Then to sup.” 
This was going to put Hasselborg 
in still more of a spot, unless he 
found a reason for setting off into 
the darkness right after supper. Yet, 
at this stage of the game it wouldn’t 
much matter if Fouri found out that 
he was an Earthman. 

“Very well,” he said amiably, “but 
I’m afraid I’ll have to get married 
the way I am, since all the rest of my 
clothes are over in Eqrar’s shack.” 
He went to the room that Haste 
assigned him, shaved, washed up, 
took a short nap, and then came out 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 



138 




to prowl the palace. He knocked on 
Julnar’s door, 

“Yes?” 

“Queen Julnar? This is the soi- 
disant Kavir bad-Ma’lum.” 

“What is it, fiend?” She opened 
the door. 

“I thought you might like to at- 
tend the wedding.” 

“Wedding? Who? Where? 
When? How divine ! I’d love to!” 
“It seems that Haste’s niece Fouri 
and I are getting hitched in about 
fifteen minutes in his reverence’s pri- 
vate chapel.” 

“You are? But how can you if 
you’re an Earth—” 

“Shu That can’t be helped, and 
I don’t want it spread around. Just 
say, would you like to come?” 

“I’d adore it ! But . . . but—” 
“But what?” asked Hasselborg. 

“I couldn’t very #ell accept while 
you’re holding my husband in that 
wretched little cell, could I? That 
wouldn’t be loyal.” 

“I’m sorry, but—” 

“My idea was, why not let him 
out long enough to attend? Tony’s 
a good sport, and I’m sure he’ll be- 
have.” 

“I’ll see.” 

He went downstairs to Fallon’s 
cell, finding the erstwhile king com- 
fortably settled and playing Krish- 
nan checkers with Ferzao. He said 
to the captive : 

“Tony, I’m getting married to 
Haste’s niece in a few minutes, and 
your . . . uh . . . wife said she’d like 



to attend if I’d let you come, too. 
Would you like to?” 

“We most certainly should !” said 
Fallon with such emphasis that Has- 
selborg looked at him in alarm. 

Hasselborg warned : “Don’t nour- 
ish ideas of making a break, chum; 
I’ll have you well guarded.” 

“Oh, we won’t bother you. Word 
of honor and all that.” 

“O.K. Ferzao, you and Ghum let 
King Antane out and take him up to 
the high priest’s private chapel in a 
few minutes. Stick close to him and 
watch him.” 

Hasselborg then went to the 
chapel itself, finding Haste, Fouri, 
Chuen, Fouri’s maid, and Julnar. 
Fouri looked at him with a hungry 
expression that reminded him of 
those Earth female spiders that ate 
their mates. Julnar, Hasselborg had 
decided, was just a healthy normal 
girl, impressionable perhaps, but 
with a wonderful shape that the top- 
less Krishnan evening-dress made 
the most of. 

Haste said : “I will run through 
the forms once, to forewarn you of 
the responses you must make. You 
stand there and Fouri there. You 
take her hand in yours, so, I say— 
Who’s this? Take that man away !” 
Hasselborg turned to see Fallon 
and his two guards. “Which man ?” 
he asked. 

Fallon cut loose with a shout : 
“Haste, you double-crossing—” 
“Silence ! I forbid you to speak I” 
cried Haste, 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



139 




Fallon paid no attention. “You 
double-crossing seft, we’ll see that 
you get . . . ohe, watch him !’’ 

Hasselborg turned to see the high 
priest cock a little one-hand pistol 
crossbow and aim it in the general 
direction of Fallon. Fallon and his 
two guards ducked frantically. So 
did everybody else in the room ex- 
cept Hasselborg and Chuen. . 

While Chuen looked around for 
something to throw, Hasselborg, 
who was standing closer to Haste, 
brought his right foot up in a terrific 
kick at Haste’s hand. The twang of 
the string mingled with the smack of 
Hasselborg’s boot, the little cross- 
bow flew high into the air, and the 
bolt struck the ceiling with a sharp 
sound and buried itself in the plaster. 

Hasselborg threw himself upon 
Haste in a tackle. Down went the 
priest, gorgeous robes and all. Has- 
selborg heard one of his men gasp at 
the sacrilege. 

“Really, my son,’’ said Haste 
when he got his breath back, “be not 
so rough with one who is no longer 
young !’’ 

“Sorry,” said Hasselborg. “I 
thought you were reaching for a 
knife. Anyway, who told you you 
could plug Antane? He’s my pris- 
oner, see ?” He got up with a grunt, 
feeling as if he had dislocated a hip 
joint. You are old. Father Victor, 
he thought, at least for football prac- 
tice. “Say!” 

“What?” Haste sat up. 

“This I” Hasselborg reached out 
and yanked off one of Haste’s an- 



tennae, which had become partly de- 
tached in the scuffle. “An Earth- 
man, huh?” 

Haste felt his forehead. “Yes, 
now that you make mention thereof.” 
Then as the significance of thg, event 
sank in, Haste did a double-take ; the 
rather stupid expression on his face 
changed to one of horror : “Speak 
it not, my s-s-son ! I p-pray you! 
The results were dire ! I were slain ; 
the Established Church were over- 
thrown : the bases of morality and 
justice were destroyed! Anything 
shall be yours, so that you betray not 
this dread s-s-secret!” 

“Oho, so that’s it? You were in 
on this smuggling deal too, eh ? And 
you tried to murder Fallon just now 
because he was going to give you 
away ?” 

“That were a harsh interpretatiori, 
my boy. I ... I c-can explain, 
though ’twere a lengthy tale—” 
“Huh. No wonder you wouldn’t 
see him when I brought him in! 
Well, that simplifies things. Sorry, 
Fouri, wedding’s off.” 

“No! No! I love only you!” 

He ignored her cries, not without 
a small internal pang. But then, he 
hoped to see Alexandra soon. He 
continued : 

“Haste, I’m pulling out tonight 
with Queen Julnar. You’ll put Fal- 
lon back in his cell and hold him on 
pain of exposure. Moreover you’ll 
carry out any instructions I send 
you with regard to him ; meanwhile 
you’ll make him as comfortable as 
possible. You’d also better pension 



140 



ASTOUNDING SCIE N CE- F I CT ION 




Ferzao and Ghum to keep their 
mouths shut. Follow me?” 

“I understand. But tell me one 
thing, my son— I’ve long suspected 
that you, too, are of the race of 
Earthmen. Be that the truth, or—” 
“That’s my business, chum. You 
understand, Julnar? You’ll do just 
as I say, or I’ll get word to Haste 
to put your boy friend out of his 
misery ?” 

“I understand, you fiend.” 
“Chuen, you’ll want to stick 
around, won’t you?” 

“Yes,” said Chuen. “I got to col- 
lect depositions and other evidence.” 
“O.K. then-” 

“But!” cried Julnar. “If I go 
back with you, it’ll be years by 
Krishnan time before I can see Tony 
again, even though it seems only 
weeks to me I” 

“I’ll fix that,” said Hasselborg, 
fishing out his precious pills. “Here, 
Tony. Trance pills. Know the 
formula ?” 

“Certainly we do,” said Fallon 
sullenly. 

“Fine. Haste, before I go, I want 
to borrow the amount I left in my 
rooms in the royal palace. I’ll give 
you a note, and after I’ve left you 
can take it around to the palace. If 
King Eqrar’s feeling honest, maybe 
he’ll let you have the stuff. Ferzao, 
put King Antane back in his cell; 
then choose half the men to come 
with me to Novorecife. The other 
half I’m turning over to Master Li- 
yao, to do as he commands, together 
with the money to pay them. Then 



get my carriage ready, with food for 
a long fast journey. And cups of 
hot shurab for Queen Julnar and me 
before we start—” 

Hasselborg was well away from 
Hershid, trotting briskly through the 
multiple moonlight, when Julnar 
asked : “Isn’t this the road back to 
Madjbur ?” 

“Uh-huh.” 

“Well, isn’t that a roundabout 
way of getting to Novorecife?” 

“Yes ; we’re going up the Pichide 
by boat. The only other route lies 
via Rosid, and I’m afraid I’m not 
popular in Ruz just now.” 

She relapsed into gloom. The es- 
cort clop-clopped behind them. Has- 
selborg suddenly clapped a hand to 
his forehead. 

“Tamates! It just occurred to 
me: if Haste’s an Earthman, Fouri 
can’t be his niece, unless she’s hu- 
man too . . . say, d’you know any- 
thing about their background?” 
“No,” said Julnar, “and if I did 
I wouldn’t tell you, you home- 
wrecker !” 

■ Hasselborg subsided. As far as 
he was concerned, the many loose 
ends in this case would have to be 
left adrift. And he must remember 
to send Yeshram bad-Yeshram the 
jailer the other half of his bribe. He 
grinned as he thought how much 
easier it was to be ultra-scrupulous 
with Batruni’s money than with his 
own. 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



141 




XIV. 

Hasselborg walked down the ramp 
from the side of his ship at the Barce- 
lona spaceport, followed by Julnar 
Batruni. Her suitcase had already 
gone down the chute ; he insisted on 
carrying his own by hand rather than 
risk his professional equipment and 
medicines. In the other hand he 
twirled the carved Gozashtando um- 
brella, an incongruous sight in this 
sunny city. 

“What now?” she asked as they 
stood in line at the passport desk. 

“First I’m going to wire your old 
man in Aleppo, and a ... a friend of 
mine in London. Then I’ll hunt up 
a doctor for a physical checkup.” 

“Why, are you sick? I thought 
the Viagens doctor checked you.” 

“So he did,” he said seriously, 
“but you can’t be too careful. Then 
I thought we’d take in some of the 
high life. While most of its estinca- 
inenfe, I know some good places over 
on the Montjuich.” 

“How simply divine! You’re an 
extraordinary man, Victor,” she 
said. 

“How?” 

“I don’t seem to be able to loathe 
you as much as I should for break- 
ing into my life.” 

“That’s my insidious charm. 
Watch out for it.” He handed over 
his passport. 

He had just fini.shed sending his 
telegrams when somebody at his el- 
bow said in Spanish : “Excuse me, 
but are you Seiior Hasselborg?” 

142 



“Si, soy Hasselborg.” The fel- 
low was dressed in the uniform of 
an Iberian Federation cop, and 
flanked by two Viagens men. 

“Lo siento mucho,” said the 
Spaniard with an apologetic bow, 
“but I must place you under arrest.” 
“Huh? What for?” 

“These gentlemen have a warrant. 
Will you explain, Senor Ndombu?” 
One of the Viagens men, a Negro, 
said : “Violation of Regulation 368 
of the Interplanetary Council rules. 
Section Four, Subsection Twenty- 
six, fifteenth paragraph.” 

“Whew! Which is that?” 

“The one relating to the introduc- 
tion of mechanical devices or inven- 
tions on the planet Krishna.” 

“I never—” 

“Queira, senhor, don’t savage me 
about it I All I know is what’s in 
this warrant. Something about put- 
ting a sight on a crossbow.” 

“Oh.” Hasselborg turned to Jul- 
nar. “Here’s some money. Take a 
cab to the Cristobal Hotel. Call up 
the firm of Montejo and Durruti and 
tell ’em to bail me out of the cala- 
bozo, will you like a good kid ?” 
Then he went with the men. 

Whether Julnar took the chance of 
getting even with him, or whether 
his Catalan colleagues were having 
an attack of mahana, nothing hap- 
pened to get Hasselborg out of his 
cell as evening came on. This could 
be serious. They had the goods on 
him with respect to those sights, 
even if they were only a pair of 

ASTOUNDING S Cl E N CE- FI CTI ON 




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JULIUS UNGER 



Box 35, Brooklyn 4, New York 




corsage pins. The spectators had 
taken note at the time, and the imi- 
tative Krishnans were no doubt 
spreading the device all over their 
planet. Not that it was really im- 
portant ; a man’s as dead when 
beaten to death with a club as when 
blown up with a plutonium bomb. 

There’d be a hearing, whenever 
the local magistrate got around to it, 
at which said magistrate would 
either dismiss the case or bind Has- 
selborg over and assign him to the 
court of first instance for trial. For 
an offense by an Earthman on 
Krishna against an Interplanetary 
Council regulation enforced by the 
Viagcns Inter planetarias security 
force, and arrested in Iberia on 
Earth, that would be— let’s see— 
Lower Division, Earth World Court 
for the Third International Judicial 
District, which sat in— hm-m-m— 
Paris, didn’t it? With appeal to— 
He’d have to dig out his old law 
texts when he got back to London. 
The maze of jurisdictions was so 
complicated that sometimes inter- 
planetary cases simply got lost in the 
shuffle and never were tried at all, 
while the principals lived out their 
long lives on bail. 

“No, ij he got back to London. 
This could result in a stiff sentence, 
especially if Chuen broke a big scan- 
dal inside the Viagens ranks about 
now, and the word was passed down 
to tighten up and make an example. 
And it did no good to have a trance 
pill smuggled in to knock yourself 
out with ; Earth penal systems were 
wise to that one, and simply added 

144 



the time you spent in trance to your 
sentence. 

Hasselborg reflected that he who 
acts as his own lawyer has a fool for 
a client. He’d better round up some 
high-powered advice muy pronto. 
Lawyer though he was by training, 
he was too rusty to cope with this 
problem himself. Maybe he should 
have stuck to law in the first place, 
instead of getting involved in investi- 
gation. The glamour of detecting 
soon wore off— 

Obviously Monte jo and Durruti 
weren’t going to call, whatever the 
reason. Although the jail people let 
him telephone, their office didn’t an- 
swer, he didn’t know their home 
numbers, and the directory listed so 
many Montejos and Durrutis that he 
decided that it would take all night to 
go through them. 

Next he tried the Cristobal Hotel. 
No, they had no Miss Batruni. Nor 
any Senora Fallon either. Did they 
have the Queen of Zamba? Come, 
senor, you are joking with us and 
we do not appreciate . ^ . oh, wait a 
minute! We have a Hoolnar de 
Thamb^; would that be the one? 

But Julnar’s room did not answer. 
Hasselborg disgustedly went to bed. 
At least the Barcelona municipal 
clink, unlike many in the Peninsula, 
was a reasonably sanitary one, 
though Hasselborg doubted whether 
any Iberians could be trusted to 
display sufficient vigilance towards 
germs. 

Hasselborg was at the telephone 
again next morning when a warden 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




said : “A Senorita Garshin to see 
you.” 

He hung up unsteadily, missing 
the cradle with the handset twice, 
and followed the man to the visitors’ 
room. There she was, looking just 
as he’d imagined her, only prettier 
if anything. 

“Alexandra!” he said. “I . . . 
you . . . you’re Miss Garshin now?” 
“Yes. Why Victor, your hair!” 
“It’s green, isn’t it ?” 

“You mean you see it, too? I 
thought I was having hallucina- 
tions.” 

“It’s just the ends ; it’ll be gone 
the next haircut I get. You don’t 
look different— not a day older.” 
“I’ve been in trance most of the 
time : that’s why.” 

“You were?” 

“Yes,” she said. 

“But . . . I’r^ afraid ... I didn’t 
bring back Tony after all.” 

“Oh, I didn’t do it on Tony’s ac- 
count. I don’t care anything about 
him any more.” 

“Then . . . uh . . . whose?” 

“Can’t you guess?” 

“You mean you . . . uK . . . 
you—” 

She nodded. He held out his 
arms, and the warden, who thought 
of Anglo-Saxons as cold fish, re- 
ceived a surprising enlightenment. 

He brought out the little Krishnan 
god, which he had been carrying in 
his pocket for this moment, and gave 
it to her. Then they sat down hold- 
ing hands. Hasselborg found that 
the paralysis of his vocal organs had 



vanished. They talked at a terrific 
pace of their past, present, and fu- 
ture until Hasselborg looked at his 
watch. 

“Say,” he cried, “I forgot I 
haven’t even got a lawyer yet I Wait 
a prinute, will you, chum?” 

He dashed back to the telephone, 
this time getting Montejo and Dur- 
ruti, who promised to send him a 
lawyer forthwith. The lawyer was 
arranging bail when the warden an- 
nounced more visitors— a Senor Ba- 
truni and a lady. 

Batruni practically slobbered over 
Hasselborg in gratitude. When the 
investigator finally wormed out of 
the emotional Levantine’s ambrace 
he introduced Alexandra simply as 
“my fiancee Miss Garshin”. Then 
he asked Julnar: 

“I thought I asked you to call 
Montejo and Durruti for me yes- 
terday ?” 

“I would have, Victor, only—” 
“Only what ?” 

“Well, you see, the stupid taxi 
driver must have misunderstood me 
and took me to the wrong place, so 
we got into an argument, and what 
with me not speaking any Spanish 
or Catalan and he not speaking any 
Englis^ or French or Arabic it was 
simply ghastly— and what with one 
thing and another, by the time I did 
get to the Cristobal I’d forgotten the 
name !” 

“Then why didn’t you call me at 
the jail and find out?” 

“I didn’t think of that.” 

“Where were you during the eve- 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



145 




ning, and again this morning when 
I called you?” 

“In the evening I went to a movie, 
and when I got back to my room 
Daddy called me by telephone from 
Aleppo to say he was chartering a 
special fast plane. So this morning 
I was so excited I left early to wait 
for him at the airport.” 

Hasselborg sighed. Nice girl, but 
too scatterbrained for his taste. 

“Has Daddy told you the news?” 
she continued. “Of course not ; he 
just arrived. Tell him. Daddy.” 

“I am going back to Krishna with 
Julnar,” said Batruni. 

“Why?” said Hasselborg. 

“It is this way. While you were 
gone the government socialKed my 
factories. They paid me for them, so 
I need not starve, but there is no 
more fun in life. I even offered to 
act as manager ; but they turned it 
down. They do not trust a wicked 
capitalist to run them without sabo- 
taging them. There is no pleasure 
on Earth any more. Everything is 
too orderly, planned, regulated. You 
cannot move a meter without trip- 
ping over red tape. 

“Therefore, if you will give me a 
letter directing that person who has 
Anthony in custody to let him go, I 
will go to Krishna and live vwth this 
wild son-in-law of mine in his island 
kingdom. I shall be a genuine prince, 
which you cannot be on Earth any 
more unless you are a Swede or an 
Ethiopian.” 

“Isn’t it just too divine?” squealed 
Julnar. “Now I’m really grateful to 
you for kidnaping me !” 

146 



“Swell,” said Hasselborg. “I hope 
you’re satisfied with the way I car- 
ried out the assignment, Mr. Ba- 
truni.” 

“Certainly, more than satisfied. In 
fact I am so pleased that I have aq, 
offer to make to you.” 

“Another job?” said Hasselborg 
in slight alarm. 

“Yes, but not the kind you think. 
In addition to my regular fee I am 
offering you a lectureship at the 
University of Bey rut, of which I am 
a trustee.” 

Hasselborg paused to let this sink 
in. “A lectureship in what ?” 

“Anglo-Saxon law.” 

“My word ! I’d have to think, 
even if I beat this rap; but my sin- 
cerest thanks. I’d have to brush up 
on my law and my Arabic. Say, 
how about seeing the*sights of Barce- 
lona? I promised Julnar, but got 
pinched before I could deliver. 
Come on ; ’tis a privilege high to 
have dinner and tea, along with the 
Red Queen, the White Queen, and 
me !” 

The hearing took place the fol- 
lowing morning. In the front row, 
like Alice between the two queens, 
sat Papa Batruni, showing signs of a 
hangover, with his daughter on one 
side and Alexandra on the other. 
The magistrate had just called the 
case when a bulky Oriental walked 
down the aisle. 

“Chuen!” cried Hasselborg, then 
to his lawyer: “Senor Aguesar, 
there’s the man we want !” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




Chuen shook hands warmly. “I 
just arrived and learned you were 
in pokey. I left several days after 
you, but in faster ship.” 

“I always get the scows,” said 
Hasselborg, and explained his 
plight. 

When the Viagens officer, Ndombu, 
had explained the warrant, Agiiesar 
called Chuen to the stand. Chuen, 
using an interpreter, told what had 
happened on Krishna, emphasizing 
the fact that only by a slight infrac- 
tion of the anti-invention regulation 
had Hasselborg been able to survive 
to forestall another and much graver 
violation. 

“Case dismissed,” said the magis- 
trate. 

Hasselborg asked Chuen ; “Could 
you stay over two days and act as 
my best man?” At Chuen’s quizzi- 
cal look he added; “Miss Garshin 
and I are getting married. We got 
our license yesterday, but they’ve 
got a three-day law in Iberia.” 

“I’m so sorry ! I have my ticket 
for airplane to China ; leave this 
afternoon. If I miss, won’t he an- 
other seat for a week. Wish I knew 
sooner.” 

“Oh. Too bad. When are you 
going?” 

Chuen looked at his watch. 
“Should start in a few minutes.” 

“I’ll go with you. Can you dear, 
sweet people excuse me for an 
hour?” 

In the taxi Chuen said : “Glad to 
get back to civilization?” 



“Right ! What did you do after I 
left?” 

“Collected evidence for 'several 
days. I got those letters from Gois 
to Dasht of Ruz, for instance. Took 
doing.” 

“What happened to Gois?” 

“Oh, he got ten years ; couple of 
others who were in with him, shorter 
terms.” 

“Was Abreu in on it?” 

“No; he’s all right. He wouldn’t 
believe Gois was a crook at first, but 
when I convinced him he helped me 
very much. But while I was still 
in Hershid the most awful thing 
happened to me!” 

“What?” 

“Fouri made me marry her on 
threat of exposing me as Earth spy ! 
Embarrassing, especially since I al- 
ready got wife and eight children in 
Gweilin.” 

“What’s the dope on Haste and 
Fouri? She can’t be his niece— ” 

“No.” 

“Mistress?” 

“Think no. Haste real old as- 
cetic.” 

“She is a Krishnan?” 

“Oh, yes,” said Chuen. 

“Then how-” 

“Haste was a deserter from one 
of earliest ships to land on Krishna. 
Pretty old then, over two hundred. 
Set himself up as holy hermit, lived 
in cave, became a power in their 
church in Gozashtand. Then when 
there was deadlock in election a few 
years ago, they picked him for high 



THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 



147 




priest as compromise. Not bad man 
really, but too small for his job. Was 
owing! to his weak leadership the 
Church was failing, I think, which is 
after all good thing if you don’t be- 
lieve that astrological nonsense.” 

“But Fouri?” 

“She was young girl from caravan 
of Gavehona— you know, a wander- 
ing tribe, like our Gypsies. Went 
live with him while he was still her- 
’ mit ; don’t know how much for re- 
' ligion, how much for regular meals. 
When he became high priest, she 
moved in with him— like father and 
daughter. Now Haste getting really 
old, so Fouri start looking for an- 
other berth. Fall in love with you; 
genuine, I think. Made Haste co- 
operate by threatening to expose him 
as Earthman. 

“Meanwhile Haste is looking for 
another berth too, since his Estab- 
lished Church is failing, so he en- 
tered plot with Fallon. He was go- 
ing to hail Fallon as Messiah or 
something like that when Fallon took 
Hershid. We fixed that. But when 
you escaped, idea of getting married 
had become an obsession with Fouri. 
Haste couldn’t marry her, obviously, 
so she picked me ; better than noth- 
ing, I suppose. Maybe she thought 
Fd fall in love with her and stay. 
Hard enough to tell what goes on in 
Earth woman’s mind.” 

Hasselborg brought his friend up 
to date on the Batruni affairs, add- 
ing: “I didn’t mention that Alex- 
andra was Fallon’s ex ; the Batrunis 
don’t know it and it would only em- 

148 



barrass everybody. How’s Fallon 
doing?” 

“All right. Was planning to put 
himself in trance when I left ; wanted 
to make sure you took off with Jul- 
nar first.” 

Hasselborg said : “It’ll be years by 
objective time before they get back 
to Krishna, and anything might have 
happened by then. However, that’s 
their lookout. You know, I’m some- 
times bothered by the feeling that 
Gois and his gang were right and 
we and the Interplanetary Council 
wrong.” 

“I know, but not our business. 
We do our jobs. Speaking of job^ 
—you taking up this teaching offer ?” 
“I think so.” 

“Sounds dull.” 

“D’you like manhunting?” 

“Of course. Why you think I 
work as a cop?” 

“Well, I’ve had my fll. While 
I’ve usually taken things pretty 
much as they came, I pushed my 
luck on Krishna as far as anybody 
could, what with being shot at with 
crossbows and slashed at with 
swords and stabbed with knives and 
almost eaten by yekis.” Hasselborg, 
feeling expansive, drew on his cigar. 
“I remember in Plato’s ‘Republic’ 
where a character named Er gets 
knocked cold in a fight. His soul 
goes to Hades and later returns to 
his body, and Er comes to and tells 
how in Hades he saw the souls of 
other dead people picking their next 
incarnations. Ajax is choosing the 
life of a lion and so on. But Odys- 
seus is smart. He figures he’s had 

ASTOUNBING SCIENCE-FICTION 




enough excitement in his last life, so 
he’s selecting the life of an obscure 
private citizen leading a peaceful ex- 
istence. And that’s how I feel. Any 
time you’re in Beyrut, come see 
Professor and Mrs. Hasselborg and 
all the little Hasselborgs. We’ll bore 
you to death with placid domes- 
ticity.” 

, As Chuen waddled up the com- 
panionway into the fuselage, he 
turned to wave at Hasselborg, who 
waved back. A good guy, thought 
Hasselborg, but I hope I never have 
anything to do with the detective 
business again. That’s that. 

THE 



A young man brushed by Hassel- 
borg, flashed him a quick glance, 
and ran up the companionway into 
the fuselage just before the door shut 
and the tractor towed the plane away 
to the catapult strip. Though Has- 
selborg had only a glimpse of the 
rhan’s face, it was enough. 

The man was the young Goz- 
ashtando priest who used to come in 
and murmur in Haste’s ear, dis- 
guised as an Earthman by a wig that, 
came down over his forehead to hide 
the antennae. Fouri must have sent 
him to Earth to track down her 
fugitive and bigamous husband ! 

END 



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THE QUEEN OF ZAMBA 





BOOK REVIEWS 



**, . . And Some Were Human,” by 
Lester del Rey, Prime Press, 
Philadelphia. 331 p. 111. 1948. 
$3.00. 

Critics of science fiction insist that 
it can have no place as literature be- 
cause it ignores the basic human 
values ; because its characters exist 
only to carry out an ingenious plot- 
twist or put some novel gadget 
through its paces. However just 
this complaint may be when applied 
to the field as a whole, it is flatly 
refuted in the twelve stories by 
Lester del Rey which Prime Press 
has published under the title “. . . 
And Some Were Human”. 

It is characteristic of these stories 
that all are human. When they first 
appeared in this magazine and in 
Unknown, they stood high in read- 
ers’ ratings. Now, five to ten years 
later, they hold up equally well. 
Whether their characters are dryads, 
elves, mutant gorillas, Venusian 
sloahts, or Lunar “monkeys”— or 
mere atomic scientists— all have a 
warmth about them which makes 
what happens to them the reader’s 
serious concern, not for the sake of 
suspense or excitement, not for the 
sake of working out some intricate 
puzzle, but because they are people 
you’d like to know. 

The bitter relationship which 
must have existed between the last 
Neanderthalers and their Cro-Mag- 
non successors has certainly never 



been so simply or well depicted as 
in “The Day is Done”. That a robot 
should be lovable is made entirely 
believable in “Helen O’Loy”. And 
in the two longest and most “hu- 
man” stories in the book, “The Stars 
Look Down” and “Nerves”, people 
like ourselves act and react as we 
would, though they are living in our 
future. The gentler stories lead up 
to the latter in a way which -leaves 
the reader with something of a case 
of “nerves” when he closes the book. 

The young artist, Sol Levin, who 
has drawn the chapter headings is 
successful except when he has tried 
caricature in the Cartier manner. 

“Divide And Rule,” by L. Sprague 
de Camp. Fantasy Press, Reading 
Pa. 231 p. 1948. $3.00. 

“The Carnelian Cube,” by L. 
Sprague de Camp & Fletcher 
Pratt. The Gnome Press, New 
York. 230 p. 1948. $3.00. 

One of the joys of the days of the 
old “middle-sized” Astounding was 
the series of middle-sized serials by 
Sprague de Camp, two of which, 
“Divide and Rule” and “The Stolen 
Dormouse”, have now been com- 
bined in one volume by Fantasy 
Press. At the same time a new pub- 
lisher, Gnome Press, has given us a 
new adventure in fantasy by de Camp 
and Fletcher Pratt which was prob- 
ably destined to follow “The Incom- 
plete Enchanter” and its successor 



ISO 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




in Unknown had that revered maga- 
zine lasted. 

In the two short novels in “Di- 
vide and Rule” de Camp is using the 
same detailed knowledge of history 
which gave us “Lest Darkness Fall” 
—now back in a new edition pub- 
lished by Prime Press at $3.00— to 
set up hypothetical future societies 
which ape those of the past— with dif- 
ferences. In the title story invading 
“hoppers” have set up a feudal so- 
ciety with ultra-modern knights and 
all the conveniences which might 
have resulted if King Arthur had 
had the services of a modern indus- 
trial engineer. In “The Stolen Dor- 
mouse” it is the society of Renais- 
sance Italy which the author is 
lampooning in his story of feuding 
industrial “families” and an under- 
ground of engineers. 

“The Carnelian Cube” is brand 
new, and although it may not quite 
measure up to the two previous 
books by these incomparable col- 
laborators, it is still quite unlike any- 
thing else the reader will find on to- 
day’s market. The carnelian cube 
with its strange writing which arche- 
ologist Arthur Cleveland Finch uses 
to transport himself from Cappa- 
docia of 1939 into a series of alterna- 
tive 1939’s in other streams of time 
may not be strictly scientific— or is 
it? 

The three worlds of Arthur Finch 
are pure de Camp-Pratt slapstick, 
broad and a bit bawdy in spots, with 
every opportunity for ridiculous 
parallels played up to the utmost. 
In successive “dreams” he is Finch 



Arthur Poet in a “perfectly ra- 
tional” world governed firmly by one 
Sullivan Michael Politician— then an 
unfettered individualist in the em- 
ploy of Colonel Richard Fitzhugh 
Lee, president of the Pegasus Lit’ry 
Society of Memphis— and finally a 
research historian in a world in 
which events of the past are re- 
enacted with grisly attention to every 
last detail. The fantasy is a little 
more heavy-handed than in the other 
Pratt-de Camp books, the incongrui- 
ties laid on thicker, but the familiar 
and heady flavor is still there. These 
two books provide more sheer en- • 
tertainment than any the fantasy 
publishers have yet given us. 

“Sinister Barrier,” by Eric Frank 

Russell. Fantasy Press, Reading, 
Pa. 253 p. 111. 1948. $3.00. 

The idea that mankind is “kept” 
as the pets or domestic animals of an 
alien and invisible race was culled 
from a voluminous collection of re- 
ports of seemingly unrelated and in- 
explicable events by the late Charles 
Fort. It has been used many times 
since in science fiction and pure fan- 
tasy, liut rarely as effectively as in 
Eric Frank Russell’s headline novel 
from the early Unknown, “Sinister 
Barrier”, now rewritten . and ex- 
panded in book form. 

Bill Graham, the hero of “Sinister 
Barrier”, has three major mysteries 
on his hands, any one of which would 
once have been enough for a full- 
blown science fiction novel. He 
must find a connection among the 



BOOK REVIEWS 



151 




sudden deaths of a score of the 
world’s great scientists. He must 
rediscover the perilous secret which 
they shared; and finally, he must 
combat and destroy that peril, before 
it can destroy him and all mankind. 
Another writer might have been 
content to use Fort’s grim sugges- 
tion as his climax, but Mr. Russell 
has led his big card early and given 
his characters a known menace in 
place of an unknown one to fight. 
The result is a fast-moving adven- 
ture story in which punch follows 
punch from beginning to end, thor- 
oughly documented with the clip- 
pings on which Fort based his state- 
ment that “I think we’re property”. 

Fantasy Press has provided four 
illustrations by Edd Cartier which 
fit the mood of the book nicely. It 
may not make literary history, but 
it will be hard to lay down once 
you’ve picked it up. 

“Skylark Three,” by Edward E. 

Smith, Ph.D. Fantasy Press, 

Reading, Pa. 247 p. Jll. 1948. 
$3.00. 

The “Skylark” triology with 
which Dr. Smith amazed and de- 
lighted science-fiction fandom back 
in the late ’20’s and early ’30’s 
pioneered, in many ways. Here 
space-opera, previously monopolized 
by the world-saver school of Ed- 
mond Hamilton, took on new free- 
dom and stature. Here the super- 
physics type of story, galloping far 
lieyond the forefront of the science 
of the time, had its real beginning. 

152 



Here the groundwork was laid for 
the “Lensman” stories which have 
been so standard a feature of As- 
tounding SCIENCE FICTION in 
recent years. “The Skylark of 
Space”, first of the three books, is 
now out in a new edition from Had- 
ley while Fantasy Press has just 
published the second, “Skylark 
Three”, and will soon bring out 
“Skylark of Valeron”. 

In “Skylark Three” our old 
friends, Richard Seaton and Martin 
Crane and their glamorous wives, 
are back, exploring ever-greater 
sweeps of the galaxy, defeating ever- 
greater enemies with ever-greater 
feats of science, and having a very 
good time doing it. Blackie Du 
Quesne, the menace of the original 
story, is soon eclipsed by the threat 
of Fenachrone, and Seaton is forced 
to delve ever deeper into the funda- 
mental mysteries of the universe to 
avoid destruction. He is aided by 
his old friends of Osnome, and by 
new allies from the water-world of 
Dasor and ancient Norlamin. As 
the book closes, equipped now with 
the third Skylark of Space, he is 
ready to range beyond the galaxy 
and into other dimensions, and to 
explore still higher orders of matter 
and energy than our own science has 
yet revealed. 

“Without Sorcery,” by Theodore 
Sturgeon. Prime Press, Philadel- 
phia. 355 p. 111. 1948. $3.00. 

.One by one the leading writers of 
fantasy and science fiction, past and 

ASTOUNDING S CI.E N CE- FI CTIO N 




present, are taking their places in 
the lists of the new fantasy publish- 
ers. A collection of stories by Theo- 
dore Sturgeon has been long over- 
due. As Ray Bradbury, himself 
probably the most striking writer in 
this field, points out in his intro- 
duction to the Prime Press collec- 
tion, “Without Sorcery”, Sturgeon 
“writes with his glands”— and he 
seems to have an oversupply of 
glands. 

Here is “It”, probably the most 
unforgettable story ever published in 
Unknown. Here are such products 
of wacky logic as “Shottle Bop” and 
“The Ultimate Egoist”, not to for- 
get that indescribable “Brat”. Here 
is pure entertainment in the “Ether 
Breather” stories, “Artnan Process”, 



and “Two Percent Inspiration”. And 
here are the grim irony of “Mem- 
orial” and the gentler story of the 
man who grew up, the rewritten 
“Maturity”. There seems to be no 
type of science fiction or fantasy 
which Sturgeon has not written and 
written well. “Without Sorcery”— 
though the title will take some justi- 
fication in view of such yarns as 
“Cargo”— has perhaps the greatest 
variety of any short-story collection 
yet brought out by the fantasy pub- 
lishers. 

Story headings for the book have 
been done by L. Robert Tschirky, 
who has not made the mistake of 
trying to make literal illustrations. 

P. Schuyler Miller 



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liamson 3.00 

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34. Sinister Barrier, by Eric F. Russell 3.00 

35. Death’s Deputy, by L. Ron Hubbard 2.50 

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37. Slaves of Sleep, by L. Ron Hubbard 3.00 

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BOOK REVIEWS 



153 





BRASS TACKS 



From another of the -6.7%. Inci- 
dentally, since you like Shiras’ 
work, I ought to tell you she’s in 
the 6.7% group, too! 

Dear Sir: 

I take my untrustworthy type- 
writer in hand to register a protest 
against Ursula Whitt’s assvmiption, 
in her letter in the February Brass 
Tacks, that her taste is completely 
representative of that of all your 
woman readers. She is, of course, 
entitled to express any of her opin- 
ions, but when she says she does it 
“so that in future you will know 
what ‘the little average woman-on- 
the-street’ wants out of her science 
fiction”, she generalizes from too few 
instances. Surely I’m as average as 
she is ! 

Personally, I thought “The Play- 
ers of A” one of the best serials 
you’ve had in the seven years I’ve 
been a reader. Personally, I thought 
“Muten” rather undistinguished— 
“Dreams Are Sacred” tickles my 
own funnybone more— but an appro- 
priate story for Astounding never- 
theless. Personally, I read every 
word of your editorials, which have 
consistently struck me as intelligent, 

154 



timely, and useful— thanks for the one 
on radiation and mutations, the only 
item I have seen anywhere on a 
subject surely interesting to many 
women— and I also read all the ar- 
ticles I can understand— about 40%— 
and never begrudge the space for 
those that others with more training 
than I can appreciate. Personally, I 
agree with Mrs. Whitt about the 
streamlined men on the covers, 
though they are infinitely preferable 
to the cutie-and-octop*us covers on 
other magazines, and I liked the 
Bonestell covers the best. Person- 
ally, I violently dislike Cartier’s il- 
lustrations, for to me his humans 
seem brutal and his nonhumans 
stereotyped, but I realize that I’m in 
a very small minority here, and I 
expect you’ll continue to use him and 
please other readers. 

That’s enough to show that dif- 
ferent women react differently ! 

Now, about your last two issues: 
“Seetee Shock” strikes me as a little 
below average for your serials. 
“Manna”,.was rather nice; the rest 
of the February issue was, it seemed 
to me, average. “Opening Doors” is 
my favorite for March; like its pre- 

ASTOUNDING SCIEKCE-FICTION 




decessor, it is well-written and the 
characters are convincing. I’m in- 
terested in contrasting these with 
Stapleton’s Odd John, which dealt 
with super-youths, too. Stapleton, 
by the way, is one of the very few 
writers who have realized that there 
would be changes in human nature 
with changes in time, place, and tech- 
niques, and that the characters in his 
stories would have motivations dif- 
ferent from those most common now. 

My own favorites of recent years 
have been “Killdozer,” one of the 
very best short stories you’ve had ; 
Padgett’s “Baldy” stories and his 
“Fairy Chessmen’’ ; and “The Play- 
ers of A.” I like the Doc Methusaleh 
stories, and Dr. Winter’s two, and 
some of Asimov’s, though sometimes 
he gets too casual with his characters, 
forgetting to make them complete. 
And, though as a rule I prefer what 
might be called social science fiction 
to space operas, I’ve thoroughly en- 
joyed the “Lensman” stories. 

By all means keep up the book 
reviews, and why not discuss some 
of the nonfiction which would inter- 
est us readers? There have been 
several recent books which have 
dealt seriously with suggestions for 
developing the psycho-logical sci- 
ences, for instance. 

Please do find room in “Brass 
Tacks” for at least one protest— mine 
or another’s, you must have had 
many— against your former contribu- 
tor’s too sweeping statements about 
what women like ! — Eugenia L. 
Herman, Freehold, New Jersey. 



You know, we DO have a subscrip- 
tion department. . . . 

Dear Sirs : 

I was down to see Ziggy last week 
—you know Ziggy, he’s the little guy 
who hobbles around on leather- 
booted stumps— sells pencils at First 
and Main during the day and has a 
kind of office down In Rosie’s place 
on South MacKenzie— or maybe you 
wouldn’t know about the office— but 
anyway I drifted down that way last 
week and had a little talk with him. 

It was a very disappointing talk, 
and while I may be able to figure out 
other ways and means to the same 
end, although Ziggy is kind of a last 
resort, I thought you would like to 
know about it. 

Rosie’s place was pretty busy 
when I got there, and so was Ziggy. 
It seemed that Jim Blaine wanted a 
doctor for one of his boys who had 
managed to collect a couple of for- 
eign objects in his leg and shoulder, 
and Lew Whitney was trying to 
wheedle a couple pounds of precipi- 
tated poppy for his penthouse cus- 
tomers who had been wailing loudly 
ever since the government curtailed 
Lew’s supply. 

When Ziggy finally got around to 
me he was in a pretty bad mood— 
Lew Whitney is quite a haggler— but 
when he heard what I wanted he hit 
the ceiling. 

“Look,” he says, “tommy guns— I 
can getcha five, in forty-eight hours 
at a half a grand apiece. Laudanum— 
a quart, as pure as it comes, in four 
hours— I’ll even finger any man in 



BRASS TACKS 



155 




the city for twenty-five hundred, take 
it or leave it— but ASF— whadaya 
think I am, Shandoo or somebody ?” 
“Wait a minute,” I protested, “it’s 
only a magazine.” 

“Only a magazine,” he howls, 
“just a plain old magazine.” 

He slapped his forehead, just miss- 
ing his eye with the chewed end of 
his cigar. 

“You’ve tried to buy ’em or ya 
wouldn’t be here. Five minutes after 
they hit the stand”— Ziggy gestured— 
“they’re gone. You oughta know.” 
“Yeah, but—” I said. 

“Yeah, but,” Ziggy mimicked, “I 
know whatcha gonna say, but, and 
I’ll tell ya now that there isn’t a sec- 
ond-story man in town what’s found 
a copy ya could read— not even the 
day after release. They’ve all been 
thumbed so bad they’re worn out.” 
“If that’s so,” I asked, “why—” 
“Why?” Ziggy countered, “I’ll tell 
ya why. Because every cop in town 
reads it— at least the ones what can 
read. If anybody knocked over a 
stand or nailed a shipment on the 
way in, he’d be jailed or pitch- 
gunned before the day was out.” 
“Listen,” he continued, “you can’t 
buy, borrow or steal ASF, last 
month’s, this month’s, or next 
month’s, so you might as well go 
home and forget about it.” 

He waved his hand in dismissal. 
“Come around again sometime,” 
he says. 

About then my eye caught the 
flicker of something under a pile of 
bottles and old rags. 

“Say,” I said, “isn’t that—” 



I never saw a faster draw in my 
life— I don’t even know where it came 
from, but it was about the meanest 
looking .45 I’d ever seen, maybe be- 
cause Ziggy was holding it. 

“G’wan,” he was screaming, 
“g’wan, beat it. Scram. Git out.” 
My eyes shifted between the gun 
and the current copy of ASF that 
was peeping coyly out from under 
the litter. I was doing some mental 
debating— my future vs. ASF. 

It was with genuine reluctance 
that I decided on the former and 
backed out of the room. But I 
haven’t given up. I haven’t been 
able to bribe anyone yet, and I may 
have to do it the hard way, but I as- 
sure you that I am going to have a 
copy of next month’s ASF if I have 
to fight every cop in town.— Jim 
Swartzniller, 1018 N. 7th Street, 
Temple, Texas. 



How could a creature that big hide 
that close to highways in thickly 
populated New York State? 

Dear John: 

Sprague de Camp has answered 
J. C. May’s call for a review, of the 
new edition of Willy Ley’s “The 
Lungfish, the Dodo, and the Uni- 
corn”— which I finished at one sitting 
at 1 :30 a.m. this morning— but some 
sideline remarks may not be out of 
order. 

Lest it seem incredible that such 
animals as are mentioned in the first 
third of the book should still be hid- 



156 



ASTOUNDING S Cl E N CE- FI CTIO N 




ADVEBTISEMENT 



Advertising Department, 

Astounding Science Fiction : 

Thanks for calling my attention to Astounding Science Fiction as a medium of 
advertising. We have been there before and expect to be there again. 

I agree with you that it might be of interest to Astounding Science Fiction 
readers to be informed of the current and forthcoming Prime Press publications. 
They are listed below : 

THE MISLAID CHARM by Alexander M. Phillips. A typically UNKNOWN 
story with 12 illustrations by Herschel Levitt and a new dust jacket by L. Robert 
Tschirky. $1.75 

THE TORCH by Jack Bechdolt. New York in 3010 A.D. after the atomic war. 
A novel of the crawl back of humans to humanity. $2.50 

. . AND SOME WERE HUMAN” by Lester del Rey. 10 short stories, a 
novelette and a novel with 12 illustrations by Levin. $3.00 

WITHOUT SORCERY by Theodore Sturgeon. A huge book containing 13 of 
Sturgeon’s stories— I almost said greatest stories but all Sturgeon’s stories are 
great. This volume includes IT, MICROCOSMIC GOD, BRAT, MEMORIAL. 
Isn’t that enough ? And there are nine more ! $3.00 

LEST DARKNESS FALL by L. Sprague de Camp. This great science fiction 
time travel story is back in print. $3.00 

LORDS OF CREATION by Eando Binder. One of the most asked for stories 
by fandom. A story of a man of today revived in the SOth Century in a second 
stone age. Read it ! $3.00 

EXILES OF TIME by Nelson Bond. The famous author of Mr. Mergen- 
thwerker’s Lobblies’ first novel. We are proud to present EXILES OF TIME, 
Bond’s own interpretation of The Twilight of the Gods. $3.00 

THE HOMUNCULUS by Col. Dr. David H. Keller. The old master is not so 
old ! He has written a new novel which will add thousands to the myriad of 
Keller fans. You have enjoyed Dr. Keller’s Solitary Hunters, Life Everlasting, 
The Thing in the Cellar, A Piece of Linoleum, and all his other wonderful stories. 
We think you will like this one, too. $3.00 

We also have imported from England IN A GLASS DARKLY by J. Sheridan 
Le Fanu at $2.75 

Also ready for delivery is THREE HUNDRED YEARS HENCE by Mary 
Griffith. This is the second in our reprints of American utopian novels. Origi- 
nally issued in 1837 and now published with an introduction by Nelson F. 
Adkins. $2.50 

And by the time you read this you will have a magnificent space opera called 
NOMAD by George O. Smith. Over 80,000 words of Smith’s best. You can’t 
miss. $3.00 

Later in the year we are going to publish the famous BLIND SPOT by Austin 
Hall and Homer Eon Flint, and the sequel by Austin Hall called THE SPOT 
OF LIFE. We are also going to do THE PLANETEER AND OTHER 
STORIES by Homer Eon Flint, and THE REBEL SOUL by Austin Hall. 

P.S. VENUS EQUILATERAL by Geo. O. Smith will be back in the fall. $3.00 
We have other plans wljich you can, of course, find out by writing to us at : 

PRIME PRESS, Box 2019, Philadelphia 3, Penna. 





ing in odd corners of the world, let 
me report the case of the Adirondack 
elk— properly wapiti, since the true 
elk is our moose. History has had it 
that the last of these big stags in the 
Adirondacks had been shot by “an 
intelligent hunter on the Raquet” 
back in 1836. Fine and reasonable— 
a few years ago I calculated that 
there is only one place in the Adiron- 
dacks where you can get more than 
about ten miles from a road. BUT 
on October 30, 1946 one William 
Vandivert, a New York photogra- 
pher, headed into the woods along 
the upper Hudson, aimed at a “big 
buck”— and shot an elk, a bull weigh- 
ing five hundred twenty-eight pounds 
and estimated at eight or nine years 
old. He’s big— I helped set up his 
head in an exhibit last fall. 

Let me hasten to say that Vandi- 
vert’s elk has not been hiding from 
the hikers and campers since 1836, 
nor had his ancestors, in all proba- 
bility. In 1915, it appears, the 
Benevolent and Protective Order of 
Elks resolved to restore its patron 
totem to its favorite state. The fol- 
lowing year funds were raised to 
finance the importation of a “herd” 
from Yellowstone National Park- 
deponent saith not how many— which 
was duly liberated. Ten years later 
an elk census failed to find them. 
Then, in 1932, six inore were re- 
leased from a game refuge. Even if 
these are the source of the 1946 
specimen, it must have been not one 
of the original herd but a first or 
second generation descendent, so 
that elk have been breeding in the 

158 



Adirondacks, quite unseen, for sev- 
eral years. Game wardens have since 
found- traces of two small herds, by 
looking for their tracks in the winter. 

When the revision of the book 
went to press, reports of the new 
finds from South Africa had not yet 
begun to come in. Maybe you can 
persuade Willy to do you a sequel 
for Science Fiction, comparing the 
little four-foot erect man-apes, Aus- 
tralopithecus, which have been show- 
ing up in such abundance, with the 
agogwe, the “little furred people”, 
four feet high, walking upright, in 
his chapter on “Rumors and 
Shadows”. 

As for the larger, black and white 
muhalu, there are several large fos- 
sil apes which appear to have died 
out in Africa, such as Proconsul, not 
to mention the primitive Rhodesian 
man— I have lost track of his current 
Latin classification— if man he was. — 
P. Schuyler Miller, Schenectady, 
New York. 



One of the more interesting items 
from Toynbee is, however, that 
wars and poor we have always 
with us— hut wars are least cruel 
when governments are most arbi- 
trary and absolute! 

Dear Mr. Campbell : 

Since I am filling out the inclosed 
questionnaire, I have decided to 
write a letter that I have been con- 
sidering for several years. 

Being a senior in physics, I have 
been following the technical periodi- 
cals for the past two years. Being a 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




rather ardent follower of science-fic- 
tion for the past ten some odd years 
I have been amused at the recent 
trend in scientific research. 

Others have written to Brass 
Tacks on the matter of the scientist 
following the science fiction authors, 
but I have noticed a new and much 
more laudable tack being taken by 
the authors. Perhaps science will 
again follow in their footsteps. 

In the past, the theme of most sto- 
ries was the difficulties encountered 
by the individual with technology. 
Now it seems to be heading toward 
societies adapting to a rapidly chang- 
ing technology. In present day ex- 
istence, these problems are b^ng met 
with methods that have been in use 
since man was knee high to an ax. 
This is more commonly known as 
horse trading. 

It seems that there are several 
schools of writing on how to properly 
deal with this problem. Van Vogt, 
Shiras and others attack with a new 
brand of mankind. Williamson and 
company use our old friend Homo 

sapiens with a new philosophy 

and/or attitude. Nature being 

rather slow in making radical 

changes in any species, the changed 
philosophy-attitude school appears to 
be the more promising group. 

Let us consider what the present 
authors of this group have been con- 
sidering to solve some of the more 
urgent problems of the day. Wil- 
liamson in his serial “With Folded 
Hands . . .” “. . . And Searching 
Mind” advocates the more extensive 
use of technology to change our atti- 



tude. Well, this has been happening 
for the past hundred years and no 
radical changes in mankind have oc- 
curred. We still don’t like each 
other. Van Vogt suggests in his A 
series more intensive personal inte- 
gration and change in philosophy 
from Aristotelianism to Non-Aris- 
totelianism. This I am afraid pre- 
supposes a more enlightened public. 
That is my reason for classifying 
him with the changers of the breed. 
This still buys us nothing. 

Having recently been reading 
Toynbee, a new thought has popped 
into my, head. According to Mr. 
Toynbee, the proper collection of 
factors are necessary to initiate any 
drastic change of view or purpose. 
Simak in his Foundation stories 
seems to be one of the few authors 
exploiting this theme. I suspect that 
he read Toynbee before starting that 
serial. I, personally, would like to 
see more stories of this type in As- 
tounding. Perhaps it would be a wise 
idea to make Toynbee required read- 
ing for all Astounding authors. If 
we are going to change man, the best 
way seems to be to employ the past 
procedures that have done the most 
good. 

For the Analytical Lab my ratings 
are for April : 

1. “Plague.” The Doc Methuse- 
lah stories have turned out to be one 
of the best in a long time as far as 
I’m concerned. Lafayette is a good 
writer and though I guessed the dis- 
ease before the middle of the story, I 
still enjoyed it. 



BRASS TACKS 



159 




2. “Colonial.” Neither good nor 
bad. Average is the best term for it. 

3. “Undecided.” It was a close 
fight between this story and “Co- 
lonial.” The idea has been over- 
worked long enough, so I gave “Co- 
lonial” the nod. 

4. “Devious Weapon” and “Prod- 
igy” are a poor tie. The trouble with 
the short stories is that they do not 
have what I would term punch. 

5. “Seetee Shock.” I have a bone 
to pick with this story. From the 
minute I started to read it I knew 
Mr. Jenkins would come through 
with flying colors. This is the usual 
formula. But it was so obvious, the 
suspense— I use the word advisedly— 
so poorly maintained that I am sur- 
prised that you published it. Stew- 
art is capable of better writing than 
this. His first story in this series 
was good but this is .a poor sequel to 
it. If Jenkins died, it would have 
been a classic, i.e. one of the few 
where I was- really surprised at the 
ending.— Jay Zemel. 

Don’t kiiozv about those oaths. 
Maybe they’re Hypocritical? Any- 
how, Asimov’s new Foundation 
story—two-parts—is now on hand. 
And Channis had reason for sur- 
prise! 

Dear Mr. Campbell : 

Here are my ratings on the April 
issue for the An Lab : 

1. “The Undecided” : As usual 
Russell comes through with the best. 

2. Tie between “Devious Weapon” 



and “Seetee Shock”. With “Devi- 
ous Weapon” another first time au- 
thor hits the gong. This was good, 
though I liked the treatment of 
“How to Crack a Thinking Ma- 
chine” given in John MacDougal’s 
“Chaos Coordinated” better. 

Will Stewart’s writing seems to 
have improved since “Opposites— 
React!” which I read again last 
week. The Brand transmitter is 
supposed to have about the same 
effect on society as Jack Williamson’s 
“Equalizer”. Sometimes I doubt 
that such inventions would do such a 
great deal of good as long as that 
strange thing called human nature 
remains. unchanged. But maybe I’m 
just a pessimist. 

3. “Plague”: You’re duplicating 
titles again. Murray Leinster had a 
story called “Plague” in the Febru- 
ary 1944 issue. This one is better 
than the last Doc Methuselah tale, 
the one about hay fever. Inciden- 
tally, when Ole Doc’s gypsum serv- 
ant curses, does he use Hippocratic 
oaths ? 

4. “Colonial” : An interesting new 
idea. 

5. “Prodigy” : Sturgeon can do 
better than this. 

The illustrations this month were 
good. The cover by Santry was well 
executed, but it seemed a little 
crowded. One’s attention is torn 
between the man in the foreground 
and the man and ship in the middle 
background. Your other new artist, 
Quackenbush, has a fine-line style 
that is a pleasant contrast to the 
dominant blacks of Orban. 



160 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




I will now offer my opinion on 
the location of the Second Founda- 
tion, as I have deduced it from “Now 
You See It . . According to the 
rules of mystery stories, the elements 
of the solution should be given in the 
story. Now, the only places men- 
tioned were Kalgan, Rossem, and 
Tazenda. The First Speaker elimi- 
nated Tazenda and Rossem, leaving 
only Kalgan. In addition, the First 
Speaker said (page 60), . . the 

Second Foundation’s Expedition to 
Rossem . . . embarked yesterday and 
are returning to Kalgan.” They 
couldn’t return to Kalgan unless they 
had originally come from there. 
That would also explain Bail Chan- 
nis’ “vast, numbing surprise”. Who 



wouldn’t be surprised to find that the 
dictator’s worst enemy is hiding 
under his very shirttail ? Of course, 
all this is so much wasted ink if the 
Foundation is supposed to be only 
in the minds of the Foundationers, as 
was suggested. 

One more thing : What is the 
meaning of W2ZGU ?— George W. 
Price, 519 East 41st Street, Chi- 
cago 15, Illinois. 

But look, “Colonial” emphasised the 
danger of a venal or controlled, 
propagandistic press! And the 
danger in trying to apply human 
ethos and mores to an inherently 
nonhuman people! 



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BRASS TACKS 



161 






Dear Mr. Campbell : 

My rating for the April issue : 

1 : “The Undecided.” Wonder- 
ful ! Splendid ! Superb ! Russell 
has really found himself again. 
Shades of “Symbiotica” and “Meta- 
morphosite” ! If Russell writes many 
more stories like this, he will very 
soon reinstate himself in the position 
of my favorite s-f author, always 
excepting the incomparable E. E. 
Smith. 

2 : “Plague !” The best Ole Doc 
yarn to date. V ery well and cleverly 
done. Everything is fine, and there 
is but one major detriment; this 
detriment, however, makes it very 
unlikely that Ole Doc will ever reach 
an A-1 level in my estimation. These 
stories are laid on a deep-space 
background but lack a deep-space at- 
mosphere ; and Russell’s stories, told 
in the same informal manner, never- 
theless create this atmosphere. How- 
ever, I should hate to see Ole Doc 
abandoned now. 

3: “Seetee Shock” (HI). Very, 
very uneven, with bits of excellent 
writing and suspense alternating 
with unnecessary, confusing, and/or 
ynrealistic passages which spoil the 
whole effect. I still don’t like the 
point of view of this serial, so belit- 
tling to humanity, and I cannot abide 
the ending, in which everybody 
shakes hands and makes up like a 
gang of Boy Scouts at the end of a 
juvenile. 

4 : “Prodigy.” I have no adverse 
criticism to make of this story, but 

162 



have nothing good to say about it 
either, 

5 : “Devious Weapon.” Another 
example of an imaginative article 
written in story form. 

6: “Colonial.” Very exasperat- 
ing. There is enough Socialist 
propaganda being bandied about in 
these days without Astounding’s 
adding to the din. I, for one, am 
tired of these stories about grasping 
interplanetary capitalists and their 
murderous henchmen. And I am 
still mossbacked and reactionary 
enough to believe that a free press is 
and always will be one of the best 
safeguards for democratic freedom. 
Believing this, I have not the least 
sympathy for Mr. Youd’s obvious 
desire to kill off all reporters. Fur- 
thermore, despite all that is said in 
this story, I am not persuaded that 
Mr. Youd feels any real sympathy 
for the Venusians, for he leaves them 
still sunk in the same rut at the end 
in which they were found at the 
beginning. 

The article on fluorine was good, 
although a little less so than I had 
expected. “In Times to Come” gave 
exciting hints of the future. The 
Clement story sounds marvelous, and 
I rejoice to see that Asimov is re- 
turning at last. But if you don’t 
publish one other story of the caliber 
of “The Undecided” throughout 
1949, I shall not blame you. One 
such story is wprth wading through 
a hundred“Colonials.”— Warren Car- 
roll, South Berwick, Maine. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE-FICTION 




IT CAN BE DONE 
... but don’t try it! 



Sotnelimes you can break all the 

rules — and get away with it. 

The Tower of Pisa, for instance, 
has successfully defied engineering 
rules and the law of gravity for 
over 800 years. 

But for most of us, most of the 
time, the rules hold. Especially in 
saving money. 

The first rule of successful saving 
is regularity . . . salting it away every 
payday. 

Occasionally you’ll find someone 
who breaks that rule and gets away 
with it. But for most of us, the only 
sure way to accumulate a nest egg is 
through regular, automatic saving. 

In all history there’s never been 
an easier way to save regularly than 
the U. S. Savings Bond way. 

So start today to use either the Pay- 
roll Savings Plan where you work, or 
the Bond-A-Month Plan through 
your bank. 

AUTOMATIC SAVING 
IS SURE SAVING— 

U. S. SAVINGS BONDS 



Contributed by this magazine in 
co-operation with the Magazine Pub- 
lishers of America as a public service. 



n 












A ^ 










-Nr- I 

'i I 






AUDELS Carpenters 
and Builders Guides 

'4vols.^6 




Inside Trade Information On: 



InsideTrade Information 

for Carpenters, Builders, Join- 
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Woodworkers. These Guides 
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tions that you want— including 
new methods, ideas, solutions, 
plans, systems and money sav- 
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tice and student. A practical 
daily helper and Quick Refer- 
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How to use the steel square — How to file and 
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to use rules and scales — How to make joints — 

Carpenters arithmetic — Solving mensuration 
problems — Estimating strength of timbers — 

How to set girders and sills — How to frame 
houses and roofs — How to estimate costs — How 
to build houses, barns, garages, bungalows, etc. 

— How to read and draw plans — Drawing up 
specifications — How to excavate — How to use 
settings 12, 13 and 17 on the steel square— How 
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How to hang doors — How to lath — lay floors — How to paint. 

«a ■■■■■■■■■■■■ 

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